Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr says that while he is sometimes inspired by pro-military patriotism at sporting events, on other occasions he finds the celebrations “nationalistic” and “patronizing.”
Coach Kerr, 53, told NBC Sports that most of the military displays are “really inspiring” but sometimes he feels conflicted about them.
“Sometimes, it’s really inspiring,” Kerr said. “You see a mother and daughter or a father and son reconnected after a tour of duty, and everybody gets emotional. And sometimes it feels like we’re being patronized. Like this is being used. We’re just playing a sport here, and it feels sort of nationalistic if that makes sense. So we are kind of wandering down a dicey path on this front.”
Kerr also blamed the attack on the U.S. by radical Muslims on 9/11/2001 as a factor in the increased salutes to our military at sporting events.
“I think 9/11 absolutely spurred a strong military dynamic to all of our sporting events,” he said. “What better way to feel connected [between the team and the audience] than to feel patriotic and to see the flag and to see members of our military who fought for our country.”
But Kerr also noted that he realizes that his opinion comes off as anti-American and anti-military.
First, you have to feel comfortable with what you’re talking about and what you’re discussing. So if you’re not comfortable with speaking about social issues, then I don’t blame anybody for not doing so. But there’s also a sense, when you’re in a job like this, that you’re working for people. You’re working for a league. You’re working for an owner. You’re working for an organization. And almost everything you say is going to be looked at two different ways. You start to worry about offending people. You start to worry about ‘Am I doing something wrong?’ ‘Am I going to get fired?’ ‘Am I going down the wrong path?’ ‘And I really like this job, and I like coaching basketball, and I just want to coach. So you sort of leave that alone. I’ve got no problem with that.
This is not the first time that Kerr has slammed patriotism as a “fake” tool.
In May, Kerr criticized the NFL for “fake patriotism” over is move to put an end to player protests during the national anthem.
“I think it’s just typical of the NFL. They’re just playing to their fan base,” Kerr said. “They’re basically trying to use the anthem as fake patriotism, nationalism — scaring people. It’s idiotic, but that’s how the NFL is handling its business. And I’m proud to be in a league that understands that patriotism in America is about free speech.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.