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‘We’re Going to Honor Men Like This’

Virginia Tech basketball coach demands respect for our National Anthem — unlike some others in our culture

A new trend in sports has many Americans fuming: Pro athletes are sitting out our National Anthem in protest over racial issues.

But one college basketball coach makes sure that on his court, when his players compete, sacrifice is both understood and acknowledged.

Related: Star-Spangled Anger Grows

Buzz Williams, coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies basketball team, insists his players stand at attention during the National Anthem. In the spring of 2015, he brought in members of the military to drive home his point — long before entitled pro players ever thought of disrespecting the time-tested “Star-Spangled Banner.”

Coach Williams asked the service members to stand in front of his players’ chairs. Then, he had his players face the military members.

“We didn’t earn those chairs,” he told his players. “Your talent didn’t earn those chairs. How tall you are and how fast you run, how well you shoot, didn’t earn those chairs.”

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He added, “I didn’t earn the chair. These guys, when they were your age, interrupted their life, they paused their education, they changed their career, and they gave their life for those chairs. So when the anthem is played — we’re going to stand like grown men. And we’re going to honor men like this, that gave their life, so we can have a chair to sit in.”

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The video of his instruction to the young players went viral.

No wonder — plenty of other coaches feel the same way about the National Anthem.

“I can’t stand when I see this younger generation not standing at attention and quiet for the 113 seconds it takes on average for the National Anthem,” said youth lacrosse coach Brian Tobin of Reading, Massachusetts. “I spend that time reflecting on how good we got it here, and I always ask myself how I can make this country better. I count the stripes and I count the stars and at the end of the song I always whisper, ‘This is the best country in the world.’ Is it the most perfect country in the world? No. We have a lot of work to do here — but taking a knee to me is just plain lazy.”

[lz_bulleted_list title=”National Anthem Facts” source=”http://www.pbs.org”]In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics while he was detained on a British ship in Baltimore.|Before it was named “The Star-Spangled Banner,” it was called “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” Key changed the name to better represent the flag and the U.S.|President Herbert Hoover signed the bill that made the song the National Anthem in 1931. Prior to that, the United States Navy had used it in official ceremonies.|During the Civil War, the Union Army translated the song into German in the hope of recruiting German soldiers.|In 1861, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. added a verse advocating that American slaves be freed.|The first sporting event to hear “The Star-Spangled Banner” was a baseball game in 1862 in Brooklyn, New York.[/lz_bulleted_list]

Many entitled pro athletes don’t know or remember real sacrifice. Throwing up a defiant fist, taking a knee, or linking arms is a lot easier than taking to a battlefield in a foreign land, and indicates not a rough or tough man — but a clueless one.

“Volunteer to make this country better,” said Coach Tobin of Massachusetts. “Work with the poor and homeless, help find the oppressed jobs and a purpose — so they will have the strength to fight back.”

Related: Walls of Honor for a Wounded Hero

He added, “Fight crime, pay your taxes, support your community, coach, vote, petition, boycott — but never take a knee. I ask my players to take a knee when they are too tired to move on. We are far from done because there is so much more work to do.”

“I am never tired enough to stop working for the greatest country in the world.”

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