U.S. Women’s Soccer Team star Megan Rapinoe made waves recently when she took a knee during the national anthem before one of her games to silently show support for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick has continued to sit down for the national anthem for a few weeks, protesting the “oppression of black people” and police brutality in our country.
Both athletes have since been flooded with both support and harsh criticism for their actions, but for the first time a professional sports team took action against Rapinoe’s demonstration.
Megan Rapinoe vows to keep the conversation going by kneeling for the national anthem as a nod to Colin Kaepernick. pic.twitter.com/DcqkVS5d4V
— ESPN (@espn) September 5, 2016
Rapinoe is a member of the Seattle Reign, which was playing the Washington Spirit Wednesday, which is owned by Air Force veteran Bill Lynch.
According to Slate Magazine, the Washington Spirit wasn’t having her defiant protest against our country, so they played the national anthem before both teams took the field.
The Washington Spirit explained their reasoning in a statement, obtained by Sports Illustrated senior writer, Grant Wahl:
“We decided to play the anthem in our stadium ahead of schedule rather than subject our fans and friends to the disrespect we feel such an act would represent. We understand this may be seen as an extraordinary step, but believe it was the best option to avoid taking focus away from the game on such an important night for our franchise…To willingly allow anyone to hijack this tradition that means so much to millions of Americans and so many of our own fans for any cause would effectively be just as disrespectful as doing it ourselves.”
Washington Spirit prevents Megan Rapinoe taking a knee during national anthem by playing anthem ahead of schedule. pic.twitter.com/Oc54ljhFe1
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) September 8, 2016
Rapinoe told the Washington Post she was “saddened” that the Washington Spirit made the decision to play the anthem while team members were off the field, adding that their use of the word “hijack” so close to the anniversary of 9/11 was “distasteful”:
“I didn’t hear it and I wasn’t exactly sure why it wasn’t played. It’s [expletive] unbelievable. Saddened by it. It’s pretty clear what the message is I am trying to bring to light in Chicago and what I continue to try to talk about the last few days. Clearly with [Spirit owner Bill Lynch’s] actions, it’s a necessary conversation. It was incredibly distasteful, four days before one of the worst tragedies in our country, to say that I tried to hijack this event.…It’s just really disappointing and disrespectful.
We want to talk about disrespect, and me disrespecting, he didn’t even give both teams a chance to even stand in front of it and show their respects. It’s unbelievable. It’s truly an unbelievable act to me.”
The Post also reports that the National Women’s Soccer League commissioner Jeff Plush was at the Wednesday night game in Maryland but did not know about Lynch’s decision until it actually happened, telling the newspaper:
“I would have preferred to have had an honest dialogue of what we wanted to do, what their goals were, and then work through it. I don’t suggest I have all the answers, but it’s better to talk about it. I’m disappointed.”
Lynch is a veteran who has lost close friends in combat, according to ESPN.
For a recap of the story, watch the Bleacher Report video below: