Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Mike Ditka hasn't changed his views on athletes protesting during national anthem.
With the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement many renowned personalities have voiced their support to show their solidarity with the Black community following the tragic death of George Floyd. But when Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Mike Ditka was asked about his opinion on athletes kneeling during the national anthem he didn't hesitate to condemn those players. "If it was up to me, I'd say no," he said about footballers kneeling. "If you can't respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country. That's the way I feel. Of course, I'm old- fashioned. So, I'm only going to say what I feel," he continued according to USA Today.
Is he saying the USA is the only country where people have the opportunity to play sports?— Sam Sprague (@spragueyboy) July 27, 2020
By having the National Anthem played your making it a political event so maybe it’s best not to play the anthem. What does the anthem have todo with national sports anyway?
In August 2016, San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers in protest of racial injustice and police brutality. At the time, the former NFL broadcaster came under fire for his controversial comments. "I think it’s a problem, anybody who disrespects this country and the flag. If they don’t like the country, they don’t like our flag, get the hell out. That’s what I think," said Ditka. "So if you’re asking me, I have no respect for Colin Kaepernick. He probably has no respect for me, that’s his choice. My choice is that I like this country, I respect our flag. And I don’t see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on."
They don't call these guys blockheads for nothing. They don't see the gray areas; just black and white. Ditka was a great player and a great coach, but this doesn't mean he's a great thinker or humanitarian.— Vic Shayne (@VicShayne) July 27, 2020
A year later he received immense backlash for saying, "there has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of," while speaking to Jim Gray on Mondy Night Football. "I don’t know what social injustices [there] have been. Muhammad Ali rose to the top, Jesse Owens is one of the classiest individuals that ever lived. Are you talking that everything is based on color? I don’t see it that way. I think you have to be color blind in this country," he said according to FTW USA Today. "But, all of a sudden, it has become a big deal now, about oppression. There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people. I think the opportunity is there for everybody — race, religion, creed, color, nationality. If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort in, I think you can accomplish anything, and we have watched that throughout our history of our country." The same year he apologized for his comment but his stance in the topic remains the same.
The 80-year-old has been against the protests from the start, saying in 2017, "There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of." The key words here are "that I know of." Perhaps you want to talk to some people who have a life experience other than rich white men— Ted Sullivan (@karterhol) July 26, 2020
It has been repeatedly pointed out that athletes are not protesting against the flag or the anthem but trying to use their influential platform to peacefully draw attention to the issue of racism that has plagued the country. The Chairman of the women's football X League has had years to understand the agenda behind this fight but it seems like nothing can change the 80-year-old's perspective of the systemic racism in America. When the topic was revisited this year following the death of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, Ditka didn't mince words as he denounced players kneeling during an interview with TMZ Sports. "I think there's a way you protest, and there's a way you don't protest," he said according to CNN. "You don't protest against the flag, and you don't protest against this country who's given you the opportunities to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen. So, I don't want to hear all the crap. You want to try it, try it. You don't, it's okay."