Team USA’s hockey coach isn’t taking this protest trend sitting down.
John Tortorella told ESPN Tuesday that his players will not play at the World Cup of Hockey this month if they don’t stand for the national anthem.
“If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game,” he said.
A national conversation has erupted over Colin Kaepernick’s repeated refusal to stand during renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner” in protest against social injustice and police brutality. Soccer player Megan Rapinoe followed suit.
The declaration is perhaps personal for Tortorella. His 26-year-old son, Nick, has re-enlisted after serving as an Army Ranger for four years, the Columbus Dispatch noted. In an honorary gesture, Tortorella said he would have an Army Ranger on the bench during an exhibition game against Canada on Friday.
“I know these are hockey games … but I do look at it like it’s for my country,” Tortorella, who is also the head coach of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, told the paper. “What Nick is doing by far dwarfs what we do. We’re entertainers; we’re playing a sport. But with my son over there — this might sound selfish — I want to team up with him and help my country.”
However, Tortorella may not get the chance to act on his pledge before games at the tournament, which begins September 17 in Toronto. National anthems are usually played after international matches, The Washington Post wrote. And they will only be played in select World Cup games afterward “when something is won from a tournament perspective,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in March.
H/T CBS New York