USC coach Clay Helton on peaceful protests: “My job is to encourage them to share their voice” (or take a knee)

USC coach Clay Helton said he would support his players kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice, but the topic has not yet been addressed by the team.

“If a young man wants to take a knee, it’s my job to support them,” Helton told the hotline.

NFL star Adrian Peterson said last week that he and other players plan to kneel during the national anthem following the murder of George Floyd and Commissioner Roger Goodell’s seemingly revised stance on peaceful protests.

Helton has discussed recent events with his players, both individually and in groups.

“These are difficult times for black student athletes,” he said. “They hurt. They see it as a time for justice, a time for equality, a time for peace. And they want to be part of the change.

“This generation is so much better than mine. They see this as a time for action. ‘

The conference would not get in the way of players – at USC or anywhere, in football or any sport.

“The Pac-12 fully supports the right of our student athletes to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest,” said Commissioner Larry Scott in a statement to the Hotline.

“These rights are in the DNA of our universities and it is now more important than ever to support our student athletes in finding ways to take an active role in the fight for social injustice and against racism.”

That ethos can be traced back to Jackie Robinson, who played baseball, basketball, soccer, and ran for UCLA.

But if footballers kneel down the sidelines in peaceful protest, logistics should change.

College football teams are usually not on the field during the national anthem, which is played approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start time; the teams enter the field of play approximately four minutes before kick-off.

In order for players to take a knee during the national anthem, a change in the timing of the pre-game routine, including the window blocked for the home team’s tape, is required.

Another possible option for players who want to kneel is to leave the dressing room for the national anthem and then return to the facility until the band clears the playing field.

“Each of them wants to share their voice in a certain way,” said Helton.

“Some may want to do that by taking a knee.

“Some may protest.

“Some may want to give their opinion.

“My job is to encourage them to share their voices.”

Helton’s comments came during an interview on multiple topics. Additional articles will be published in the coming days.

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