If you want a abbreviated, “coach-speak” answer to your question, don’t talk to Frank Martin - especially if it pertains to social issues.
During his season-opening press conference, the South Carolina Gamecocks men’s basketball coach was asked if he would discipline a basketball player of they chose to sit during the national anthem, a la San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. It turned into a rather lengthy answer.
Here’s part of the meat of Martin’s response:
“If one of my players felt adamantly about things like that, I would understand. But in my conversations with them, preparing them for that moment in their life, I think we need to be united in what we do...
“You don’t beat hate with hate. You beat hate through education and love. You drown it with those words (and) actions. What I told our players is simple: Be an agent of action. Let’s not talk about it. A lot of people talk the talk, but do you walk the walk? if there’s something that you don’t like, you have a platform. People will listen to you. just make sure you’re prepared for that powerful moment to express what you don’t like the right way.”
“If they choose to not support the national anthem, that will be disappointing for me, but it’s their right. It doesn’t mean I have to agree with them. It is their right, and anyone that questions that is out of their mind. That’s why this is the greatest country in the world.”
As a first-generation American born to Cuban exiles, Martin certainly has a unique perspective he can draw from. He alluded to that during his response, mentioning Jose Fernandez, the late Marlins pitcher who defected from Cuba in 2007 and became one of MLB’s top young talents who was known for his love of his adopted country. In regards to Kaepernick, Martin was proud that a player of that stature was taking a stand as opposed to what he called “vanilla” players, but bristled - understandably - when he saw him wearing a Fidel Castro T-shirt to an August press conference.
Martin added, "If you're going to talk the words oppression...don't talk about oppression then celebrate Fidel Castro." https://t.co/nlRVmrNT3y— Hale McGranahan (@Hale_AJC) October 4, 2016
It was a thoughtful, deep answer from Martin, and he deserves credit for taking the issue head-on instead of resorting to a quick, 30-second soundbite. He certainly has the heads of his young men in the right place when it comes to issues like this - especially when it’s easy for them to conduct a protest simply for shock value and social media approval as he mentioned, rather than fully educate themselves on the issues - and that’s admirable.
Here’s Martin’s full answer (ends around the 31:24 mark)