Sports and politics are colliding all over the state of North Carolina this week.
San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be in Charlotte on Sunday, when he’s expected to continue his protest of racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem at Bank of America Stadium.
Earlier, the ACC pulled this year’s football championship game from Charlotte amid the firestorm over the state’s controversial House Bill 2, which limits antidiscrimination protections for LGBT individuals.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera was asked about both the Kaepernick protest and the HB2 controversy Thursday.
Rivera said he doesn’t believe sports should be used as a way to affect political change.
“People come to the stadium to get away. And I decided that after the 1980 Olympic boycott. I didn’t think it was fair. We were using sports as pawns,” said Rivera, who was preparing for his freshman year at Cal when the U.S. boycotted the Summer Games in ’80.
“We weren’t happy with the politics in Russia, and what did they do? They were invading Afghanistan. So as far as I’m concerned, sports is sports and politics is politics. If you want to talk politics, if you want to get involved, throw your hat in the political ring, you want to make change, vote. Vote. That’s the truth of the matter.”