Wednesday, September 7, 2016

John Tortorella, Team USA Hockey, and the National Anthem

From FOX Sports:

The always-colorful John Tortorella will be behind the bench as head coach of Team USA during the World Cup of Hockey later this month. He's already making it known that he's not going to tolerate any national anthem protests from his players during the tournament.

"If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game," Tortorella told ESPN's Linda Cohn on Tuesday.

...It's unclear if any American hockey players were planning on exercising their constitutional right to protest, but Tortorella's stern warning makes it clear that he doesn't want any part of it during the World Cup. It seems unlikely that anyone will go against his wishes, but if it happens, it'll be interesting to see if the coach follows through with his threat to bench the protesting player(s). It'll also be interesting to see what kind of media firestorm ensues if he does.

What's with this "constitutional right to protest" stuff?

Players on teams are bound by all sorts of rules and requirements. When they commit to a team, they agree to commit to the expectations set by the coach and staff.

If Tortorella requires the TEAM USA hockey players to stand during the national anthem, I see no problem with that. Following that protocol is not out of line, and he's certainly acting within his role as coach to bench a player as he sees fit.

Tortorella wouldn't be infringing on the "constitutional right to protest." He doesn't have the power to prevent a player from exercising that right. Players have hours and hours every day to protest to their heart's content.

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