Coach John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats took a knee over the weekend, during the national anthem, before their game against Florida.
Although the gesture was in line with the social consciousness of many athletes across multiple sports, it is out of line with Kentucky’s good ole boy values.
"It's great to have the head man in charge backing you with everything you do."
Prior to Saturday's win, Kentucky kneeled during the national anthem as a team to make a statement. Here's what Cal and Brooks had to say about their decision to do so. pic.twitter.com/ilg3XZEamb
— Eli Gehn (@EliGehnTV) January 10, 2021
The conservative state, which voted, 62 percent to 36 percent, for President Trump in the November general election and is the home state of former Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, is agast at the symbol.
On Monday, the Kentucky State Senate president, Robert Stivers criticized the players while crying. Although he joined the national condemnation of the insurrection at the Capitol building in D.C., he felt the players’ kneeling wasn’t the right move.
— Cierra Clark (@CierraClark_) January 9, 2021
“Was it at the right place or the right time? That’s debatable, ” said Stivers.
There were also calls by a government body to defund the university.
Over a knee?
The fact that Kentucky as a State refuses to advance with the national awakening happening athletically is laughable at best.
The legislature in Knox County, took it a step further, adopting a resolution asking that state money for the university be reallocated because of the protest.
When the bag is suggested to be tampered with, you know the animus is real.
"Laurel County Sheriff John Root lit Kentucky T-shirts on fire alongside County Jailer Jamie Mosley on Sunday in a since-deleted Facebook post that followed up a demand that head coach John Calipari be fired.
Wildcats players and coaches including Calipari took a knee during…" pic.twitter.com/t1OMQQHURk
— Mousepounder (@mousepounder) January 12, 2021
The university “receives millions and millions of dollars every year of hardworking Kentucky taxpayers’ money,” Knox County Judge-Executive Mike Mitchell told The Times-Tribune of Corbin, Ky. “I think they need to be held accountable for their actions if they can’t manage it no better than that.”
Even the sheriff of Laurel County, John Root, burned some Kentucky gear on Facebook.
The caption: “I honestly can’t believe a team from Kentucky (the Hillbilly State) took a knee to our national anthem with the American flag displayed.”
Could not care less about UK, but will take his advice and call Mitch to say I respect Calipari & his players for righteous advocacy.
— Mike Lindeman (@MikeTLindeman) January 11, 2021
Remember, this is the same State where Breonna Taylor’s murder by police went unpunished. As the nation exposes it’s deep division daily, Kentucky and Calipari’s entrance into the fray is welcomed nationally but reviled locally.
Kentucky, was the national champion in 2012. Instead of the bluegrass faithful focusing on their 4-6 start this season, with a 3-0 record in the Southeastern Conference, they rather excoriate the players for using their platform peacefully.
On Monday, Coach Calipari discussed the stance on his radio show.
“It wasn’t about the military,” said Calipari. “Six of these players come from military families. Either their father was in the military, their brother, their uncle, a couple of them, their grandfathers, they were in the military. This wasn’t about the military.”
The gesture was inspired in part by the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol last week in Washington, according to the players. They asked Calipari and the other coaches to join them in their efforts.
With 2021 already showing signs of 2020, athletes using their platforms to shed light on issues will not be going away anytime soon.
Someone shoot Kentucky the memo we all have received, thankfully, to get used to it.