Alabama Crimson Tide Coach Offers Feedback on Student Protests

Sports have emerged as one of the many unlikely battlegrounds for cultural conflicts in recent years. Most recently, Colin Kaepernick started a wave of protests that has swept over the NFL and touched numerous college football teams. However, Alabama Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban has offered his own feedback as a coach on the recent protests.

Players at Michigan stood with raised fists and bowed heads during their last game, and more recently, a group of Alabama students sat during the national anthem before their game with Kentucky.

While there have been no protests within the Alabama football players, their coach has offered his own take on the protests that have been occurring.

“I would first of all listen to what the players had to say and really try to understand their point of what they want to do and respect their opinions and what they need to do,” Saban said.

He said that in his position, he’s never been in many of the situations that players across the country are protesting for. Saban explained that the only similar situation he was involved in was while he was a student at Kent State University.

The situation that Saban referred to happened in 1970 when he was a freshman at Kent State. Students were protesting the war in Vietnam when the National Guard was at the school.

Four of the students protesting were gunned down by members of the National Guard. It’s still not clear why the National Guard opened fire on the students.

Over 36 million kids play organized sports every year, and some of their role models have recently spoken out about the injustices occurring in America today. Even high school and college students have taken to joining in on the protests.

Just last weekend at Alabama’s game against Kentucky, a group of 30 university students sat through the national anthem in an act of protest.

The most recent protest was the second at an Alabama game, which students announced and promoted with the hashtag #bamasits.

Their protests, like many others across the country, have received mixed reactions from peers and the general public.

Some of the negative backlash consists of those making a case for standing for the anthem. However, much of the backlash comes from social media in the form of racist, derogatory comments aimed at black students.

Numerous protesters have taken to social media to express their concern and sadness about the negative comments.

“Today I was brought to tears as my peers bombarded our peaceful protest … [I don’t know] why the hate is so deep,” one student wrote on Twitter.

Despite all of the negative backlash, many more people — students or otherwise — have expressed support for the Alabama students and the other athletes who have participated in silent protests.

Saban, while understanding a player’s right to protest, also stated that the responses and reactions are “an individual thing.”

And the reactions certainly have been all over the map.

In addition to Colin Kaepernick and the Alabama students, Nascar has come under fire for confederate flags at their races. In the south, the confederate flag is still a powerful symbol, largely popularized by “The Dukes of Hazzard,” which ran from 1979 – 1985.

Sporting events as grounds for protest is nothing new, but it is receiving some harsh backlash from those who don’t support it.

Nick Saban said that though he and his team prefer to keep out of the political discussion, he would “do the best I could to try to understand why a player would want to do that.”

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