If you’re a coach on the professional or college level, you should assume that someone is going to ask what you would do if one of your players decided to protest the national anthem before a game. Syracuse Orange women’s basketball coach Quentin Hillsman got the question from Syracuse.com’s Lindsay Kramer and Coach Q appears to be on the side of #TeamFreeSpeech.
"You know, that's freedom of speech. I think if that's what you believe in and it's not breaking the law and it's your right as an American citizen, you have a right to do what you want to do,'' he said. "I try to not judge people's views and opinions.''
"To be honest with you I don't know if it's something that I would have a team meeting about, because at the end of the day it's one of those subjects where, hey, you have a right to do what you want to do as long as it's not breaking the law,'' he said. "That's why this is the greatest country.''
Hillsman went to talk more about lawful protests on a grander scale and how he thinks there’s a chance to make an impact when people come together on what they believe in.
"I think that a lot of people want freedom of speech when it's convenient,'' Hillsman said. "And sometimes when it's tough issues and there's tough things going on, people think that you shouldn't be able to exercise your right to freedom of speech. If that's what you believe strongly in, I don't think there's anything wrong with you exercising your right to do that. At some point, when you have a total, what I call a corporate thing, where you're all doing it together, I think it's very powerful.''
The basketball season is still far enough away that we haven’t really given much thought to what Syracuse men’s and women’s players (or coaches) might do in line with current protests. Who knows where things will be at that point. But now we know if someone does decide to speak their mind, Coach Q isn’t going to stand in their way.