Jay Bilas Calls Nigel Hayes “one of the brightest minds in sports,” Supports Anthem Protest


Prior to the State Farm Champions Classic tonight at Madison Square Garden, ESPN college basketball analyst, Jay Bilas, commented on Wisconsin senior forward Nigel Hayes’s recent protest of the national anthem. Bilas was supportive.

“We expect on college campuses that our thoughtful students are going to use their voices in the market place of ideas,” Bilas said. “I think Nigel Hayes is one of the brightest minds in sports, let alone college sports, and he’s got a voice that deserves to be heard.”

Bilas went on to speak generally about athlete protests.

“Sometimes people forget that the flag was born out of violent revolution. These are nonviolent demonstrations in order to get people talking and to get people to meet these issues head-on.”

He continued.

“Protest and demonstration isn’t supposed to make you comfortable, it’s supposed to make you uncomfortable. What if John Carlos and Tommy Smith had decided to say their piece in a press conference? It wouldn’t have been as powerful.”

“They put statues up of them because of the courageous stand that they took. It’s not easy in the present, it was certainly not easy for them, but they’re looked upon now as heroes.”

Bilas concluded with a particularly poignant point, considering the result of the recent Presidential election.

“We’re not moving backwards in this country, the people who are raising these issues are going to be proven right, but the price is paid in the present.”

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Jamal Murphy