President Barack Obama surprised few when he came out in support of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but don’t expect John Tortorella, the fiery head coach of Team USA in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, to fall in line.
In fact, Tortorella told ESPN that if one of his players follows Kaepernick’s footsteps and sits during the playing of the national anthem, they can expect to remain sitting.
“If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game,” he said.
Kaepernick made the choice to start sitting during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial oppression, saying he is “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Unlike the $126 million NFL player, Tortorella has a little more skin in the game.
CBS News reported:
Tortorella has talked a lot about the importance of his players representing their country well since camp opened. He also has felt his bond to the U.S. tighten through his son’s military service. Tortorella’s son, Nick, is an Army Ranger and is currently deployed. Tortorella will also have a Ranger on Team USA’s bench during Friday’s exhibition game against Canada in Columbus.
“I know these are hockey games … but I do look at it like it’s for my country,” Tortorella told the Columbus Dispatch on the opening day of camp. “What Nick is doing by far dwarfs what we do. We’re entertainers; we’re playing a sport.
“But with my son over there — this might sound selfish — I want to team up with him and help my country. I get pretty caught up in representing my country. There’s nothing like it.”
And while the hockey players on Team USA recognize Kaepernick’s right to sit if he chooses, they are focused on the bigger picture.
“It’s [Kaepernick’s] right to do, but everyone here is just concentrating on representing their country and their flag,” Devils goalie Cory Schneider told USA Today.
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