A coach who teaches patriotism


fourth_july_flagWe are all familiar with Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who refuses to stand during the pre-game singing/playing of the National Anthem. He has been condemned by some and praised by others for his decision to kneel or sit down during the presentation of the Star Spangled Banner.

The Washington Post had an interesting commentary, written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, on Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the National Anthem. The former NBA star wrote, “During the Olympics in Rio Army Reserve 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks was sprinting intently when the National Anthem began playing. He immediately dropped his pole and stood at attention, a spontaneous expression of heartfelt patriotism that elicited more praise than his eventual bronze medal.

“. . . . Colin Kaepernick chose not to stand with his teammates during the National Anthem. To some, Kendricks embodies the traditional all-American Forrest Gump values of patriotism, while Kaepernick represents the entitled brattish behavior of a wealthy athlete ungrateful to a country that has given him so much.

“In truth, both men, in their own ways, behaved in a highly patriotic manner that should make all Americans proud.”

While Abdul-Jabbar has the perfect right to express his own view and call Kaepernick patriotic, I must confess that I like Buzz Williams’ view of patriotism best.

Upon his graduation from Oklahoma City University in 1994 Williams went straight into coaching. He served as an assistant coach in several college programs until 2006 when he moved to New Orleans to coach the New Orleans University Privateers men’s basketball team. The Crescent City was still suffering in the aftermath of Katrina. The hurricane had a devastating affect upon the city and the University. The school’s student population was down 50 percent; and the basketball program was suffering, because there was no money available to meet the basic needs of the university’s athletic teams.

In 2007 Williams went to Marquette to be the assistant coach. The next year Brent Langdon “Buzz” Williams became head coach and led Marquette to a 25-10 record. They lost to Missouri in the second round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Three times Williams took Marquette to the sweet sixteen round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament and once to the elite eight.

In 2014 Williams became the men’s basketball coach at Virginia Tech. His first season was dismal with a 2-16 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but the team rebounded last year and went 20-15 overall and won 10 games in the ACC.

But Williams not only wants to teach his players the fine qualities of the game, he wants to instill in them values and patriotism.

He said that he was “fed up’’ with the way some of his players were acting while the National Anthem was sung or played before games, so he made them come to the court early one Saturday morning last fall to teach them a powerful lesson.

According to an article in The Federalist, Williams had his players stand face-to-face with a group of veterans as he explained why everyone should stand at attention and show respect during the National Anthem.

Rather than attempt to explain what Coach Williams said and did, look at the attached video and you will see coach who wants to appropriately honor those who deserve honor.


Colin Kaepernick, national anthem, NFL, patriotism, San Francisco 49ers, Star Spangled Banner


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