Colin Kaepernick's decision a few weeks ago to kneel as a silent protest during the national anthem sparked a string of similar acts from around the NFL. In the weeks that have followed college and high school players from around the country found their own silent ways to protest.
The player protests had a large number of head coaches asking themselves, and their staffs, how they would react to a similar situation on their own sidelines. Some head coaches contemplated silently within themselves, while others solicited advice from the rest of their staff.
Yesterday, Nick Saban offered his thoughts on how he would handle things in a piece on SEC Country, and it's something all coaches should read.
“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. Look, I’ve never been in a lot of these situations that are occurring now. The only situation I was ever involved in I was a student at Kent State and the National Guard was there and we had an unfortunate incident,” Saban explained, referring to the four students shot on campus in 1970 during a campus protest of the Vietnam War where the National Guard was called in to intervene.
“How people respond and how people react to that is an individual thing. I would do the best I could to try to understand why a player would want to do that. I do think that everyone’s entitled to individual differences and believing what they want. I really do. We have never used our team here to demonstrate that myself. You’ve never heard me comment politically on anything. We try to keep things to be team things and for guys to try to respect that.”