Coach Calipari’s kneeling teaches the wrong lesson

This letter is regarding the University of Kentucky’s decision not to stand for the national anthem at the January 9th basketball game in Florida.

As the son and brother of high school and college basketball and football coaches (my father having coached at Boyle County), and one whose first job offer was to coach at the college where I played, I believe I speak from a unique perspective, which causes me to cross the line and break a cardinal rule amongst coaching families. That rule is criticizing publicly a coach’s decision.

Basketball courts and athletic fields are the coaches’ classrooms, where they should not only teach the art of the game but the art of life as well, educating and teaching a love of family and country, respect for authority and civic responsibility. These are essential components which help make up a successful society.

In addition, you teach of the sacrifice made for one’s country, and although not perfect because no country is, America is the only thing that stands (for the moment) between freedom and tyranny for the rest of the world. And you teach of those who died so the players have the freedom to play and potentially make it their profession.

Coaching is more than just teaching the art of the game. It should teach the game of life. How to take the lesson of dreams, goals, discipline, and hard work, and showing how being knocked down and getting back up is all applicable to one’s life after high school and college playing days are over.  Enlightened coaches will do this.

We know there are injustices but there are other ways to protest one’s political position. Kneeling while representing a state university or other institution is not the place for it. It disrespects our country.

If we teach youth that it is okay to kneel against the flag in peacetime, they will not stand up to defend it as adults in the time of our nation’s peril.

Calipari asked players if they wanted him to participate in kneeling. “I said OK. I’ll kneel with you…It’s something that speaks for itself.”

Very true. It speaks as one who has not properly defined or understands the mission, that it is more than just about winning. Either he’s not yet learned to articulate this message, or worse, has compromised the mission for the principle of winning at all cost.

Randy Gip Graham