Lovie Smith responds to anthem protests, wants players to be involved

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Lovie Smith encourages his players to remain involved in their communities. | Bradley Leeb/Associated Press

National-anthem protests have been a hot topic in sports as of late, especially in the football community.

Illinois coach Lovie Smith was asked Thursday on the ”Mad Dog Sports Radio” show what he would think if one of his players decided to protest during the national anthem.

“This is what I tell our players,” said Smith, who went 3-9 in his first season with the Illini last year. “‘You live in a society, alright. You can’t avoid everything that’s happening in the world. Be informed. If you make a decision be willing to stand by it. Speak for yourself, you don’t speak for the entire football team.”

Smith said he encourages his players to remain involved in their communities.

As a football player, you have a mic in front of you at all times. Our guys talk to the media at any day,” Smith said. “If there’s an issue they want to address, they can do it at any time. … [I encourage] all our guys to be involved in what is happening in their community.”

Smith said he had no comment on specific national anthem protests, which include former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee last season and Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett sitting during the Star-Spangled Banner this year. Both of their protests aim to bring awareness to social injustices.

Listen to a clip of the interview below:

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