John Tortorella, current Team USA hockey coach, made it very clear that he will not tolerate any of his players sitting down during the national anthem.
In an interview with ESPN, Tortorella said, “If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game.”
Tortorella, whose son is an Army Ranger, has talked about how important it is for him to represent his country.
“I know these are hockey games…but I do look at it like it’s for my country," He told the Columbus Dispatch.
Many are questioning his authority regarding the issue. Some praise him for taking a stand, while others believe it is not his place. Yet, Tortorella’s statement is contradictory. While he believes that he is paying respect to his country, he is infringing on his players’ rights by giving them an ultimatum.
Shouldn't surprise anyone. Pro sports are nothing if not authoritarian. https://t.co/XTUho2JDi1— Paul B. Kennedy (@PaulBKennedy) September 7, 2016
I love John Tortorella, so much. "If you sit during the National Anthem, remain seated for the game." ???? #Murica— Bryce Jurkovac (@Jurky88) September 7, 2016
The right to sit or kneel during the national anthem, as said by President Barack Obama in response to Colin Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem, is an exercise of constitutional right. Many view Tortorella's statement as an oppression of the players’ constitutional rights.
Since Tortorella’s statement, many have been chiming in all over the Internet. Stephen A. Smith from ESPN says that he thinks Tortorella should be fired for his “un-American” stance. Others believe that while players have a choice in whether or not they sit or stand during the anthem, coaches also have a choice in which players they put in the game.
A coach may have the power to choose who plays or sits, but basing that decision on whether or not a player stands for the national anthem is a violation of constitutional principles.
Banner credits: Twitter user @PeteBlackburn