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Stan Van Gundy: Athletes who protest for equality are patriots

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The Pistons coach takes to the pen with an eloquent piece supporting athletes protesting for equality.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Brooklyn Nets Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

As society has seen a rise in vocal racism around the United States over the past year, Stan Van Gundy has been among the NBA coaches to speak out against that racism. This morning he published on Time magazine an eloquent support of athletes who are protesting for equality in the criminal justice system.

In a time where bigotry seems on the rise and commitment to racial equality on the decline, I have an obligation as a citizen to speak out and to support, in any way possible, those brave and patriotic athletes who are working to bring change to our country. I believe all of us do.

It’s an excellent piece of writing that you should definitely take the time to read in full. He talks at length about the meaning of patriotism, the bravery and self-sacrifice that often accompanies protesting to promote civil rights, and how these protests always breed discomfort for some parts of this country. He also reiterated the importance of keeping the meaning of the protests in the spotlight.

In the great tradition of the civil rights movement, these athletes are using non-violent, peaceful protest to work toward specific changes they want to see in their communities and their country. Because of this “controversy,” people are forgetting what these protestors are trying to change. It’s important for us to talk about it every day until it resonates, until change happens. Their demands are important, and today, I am adding my voice in support.

What is it that they want? Simply and succinctly: equality. Equal rights. Equal justice. Equal treatment by police and others in authority. Equal opportunity.

SVG expands on the succinct version with the specific policy changes athletes are advocating for, including ending police brutality and important criminal justice reforms.

There are two simple truths at play with SVG’s piece. First, much of America is never accepting of any form of protest by marginalized communities. It’s never the right time and never the right form. Second, racial inequalities in the criminal justice system exists. SVG references statistics that make that point indisputable.

Stan Van Gundy will probably face backlash within some parts of the fan base, reverting to the old refrain that he should “Stick to sports.” He’s already made his thoughts known on that front. He shut it down hard and firm.

Sure, politics are divisive. But this isn’t politics. It’s not partisan. It’s equality. Kudos to Stan Van Gundy for speaking out for equality.