On his first day as the new basketball coach at the University of Mississippi last March, Kermit Davis revealed himself to either be one of those national anthem zealots who have spent the past couple years screaming about the platform Colin Kaepernick chose to bring light to racial injustice and police brutality in this country or a shameless panderer to those zealots, a large number of whom are presumably fans of the flagship school in a deeply conservative state.
“We’re going to be a team that respects the flag and national anthem,” Davis went out of his way to say, unprompted and completely unaware that 11 months later eight of his players would kneel during the national anthem to protest a gathering of white supremacists and pathetic Confederate fanboys in Oxford this weekend.
Davis’ proclamation about respect for the anthem last March was curious. Though the country has been embroiled in a debate allegedly about whether the anthem is a proper vehicle to raise concerns about issues — a debate the current president has weighed in on via Twitter numerous times and whose supporters cheerlead as a cultural wedge to vilify liberals — it hasn’t really made much of an impact in college sports. It’s been a non-issue in college football, where teams aren’t even on the field during the national anthem. A couple of women’s basketball teams have knelt, but it hasn’t happened on a stage or scale that suggests college teams were eager to mimic Kaepernick.