On Tuesday, John Tortorella, the coach of Team USA for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey told ESPN, “If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game”. Following backlash from this statement Tortorella refused to back down.
Wednesday Tortorella elaborated on his statement,
“I’ll tell you right now. Try to understand me. I’m not criticizing anybody for stepping up and putting their thoughts out there about things. I’m the furthest thing away from being anything political. No chance I’m involved in that stuff,” Tortorella said.
“Listen. We’re in a great country because we can express ourselves. And I am not against expressing yourselves. That’s what’s great about our country. We can do that. But when there are men and women that give their lives for their flag, for their anthem, have given their lives, continue to put themselves on the line with our services for our flag, for our anthem, families that have been disrupted, traumatic physical injuries, traumatic mental injuries for these people that give us the opportunity to do the things we want to do, there’s no chance an anthem and a flag should come into any type of situation where you’re trying to make a point.
“It is probably the most disrespectful thing you can do as a U.S. citizen is to bring that in. Because that’s our symbol. All for [expressing] yourself. That’s what’s so great. Everybody does. But no chance when it comes to the flag and the anthem. No chance.
“On this team here, this World Cup team, there wouldn’t even be a player that would think about doing that because I know the guys well enough. We’ve gone through it,” he said. “But if I was ever involved in a situation where someone is trying to make a point, and they have a perfect right to do that, but to disrespect our flag and anthem, as I said yesterday, they would not play.
“If that ever happened, there’s no question, it’s just not right. And it’s not black, white, blue, red. It has nothing to do with the politics of all of this. It’s just not right. This is our country. Our people are fighting for our country, our flag and our anthem. That shouldn’t come into this equation at all. There are other ways of doing things.”
In many ways Tortorella’s statement is no different than many made regarding Kaepernick and his protest in the past week and a half. Tortorella grants Kaepernick’s right to his protest but criticizes him for his method. Tortorella also falls in with New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, Minnesota Vikings G Alex Boone and Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden who believe the American flag to be a sacrosanct symbol of the United States military and an inappropriate vehicle for protest. And Tortorella is correct, just as others have been, in arguing that there are other ways to protest, ways which may even be more effective.
Except Tortorella and those who share the same point of view now find themselves supported by Curt Schilling.
Curt Schilling, the former Boston Red Sox pitcher and ESPN baseball analyst who was suspended and subsequently fired by ESPN for his bigoted and racist social media postings. Postings such as this one in support of North Carolina’s anti-transgender bathroom law:
And this one comparing Muslims to the Nazis:
And this retweet following the mass shooting at a Orlando gay night club:
Surely John Tortorella did not ask for Curt Schilling’s endorsement. Tortorella and those of a similar opinion may not welcome it either. But they have it. And Curt Schilling’s endorsement is one way to tell you are on the wrong side of things.
Even Steven A. Smith took down Tortorella’s statement: