Strong: Respect for flag, others' opinions are essential
Though the national anthem controversy isn't likely to trickle down from the NFL to the college level (as we explain here), college coaches aren't oblivious -- or immune -- to the issue.
On Tuesday, Bulls coach Charlie Strong was asked about it more than once, saying, "You have to respect the American flag, you have to respect this country."
So what would he do if one of his players approached him about making a public stand or protest?
"We would have a conversation and we would talk about the reason why you're making a statement and why you feel the way you feel," Strong said during his weekly press conference.
"You have to have that conversation with the player, because you don't want him to just stand up and just all of the sudden feel like, 'Hey, this is what I need to do.'"
Strong kept stressing open dialogue and education when pressed about the widespread NFL protests. He said neither he nor the players have spoken much about it in a team setting, but if such an issue were to arise, they would discuss it as a group.
"There's issues that you can come to a common answer if everybody's willing to work together. And a lot of times, everybody's got to have their opinion," he said.
"I may not believe what you believe, but it's not that you are wrong. It's like, if we sit down and have a conversation and are able to express our beliefs, then we can come to an understanding of why you feel the way you feel, and the reason why I feel the way I feel.
"Even with our team, I always tell them, 'If you're willing to make a stand about something, make sure that you've researched it and you have a reason for making that stand.'"
Strong then suggested the nation has more pressing issues than the one that has created such a stir on the sports landscape.
"My mind goes to...Puerto Rico," he said.
"Look what's happening there in that country. They're talking about the number of days they're not gonna have power. Let's go help those people. Look what happened even in this state (with Hurricane Irma), look what happened in Texas (with Hurricane Harvey).
"Sometimes there's battles to fight, but let's take care of what's happening around us instead of kind of thinking it's not an issue when it is an issue."