NWSL team plays anthem early, doesn’t let Rapinoe “draw attention to personal cause”

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Professional women’s soccer player and U.S. national team standout Megan Rapinoe followed the lead of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and knelt through the national anthem before her team’s National Women’s Soccer League game last Sunday.

Rapinoe, who plays for the Seattle Reign in the NWSL, didn’t have a chance to do the same before Wednesday’s game.

The Washington Spirit played the national anthem before Rapinoe and her teammates were on the field, then released a statement in which the club said doing so was “the best option to avoid taking focus away from the game” because the Spirit organization “respectfully disagree[s] with her method of hijacking our organization’s event to draw attention to what is ultimately a personal — albeit worthy — cause.”

Yes, it was a strongly worded statement.

Rapinoe said after Sunday’s game that her gesture was “a nod to Kaepernick” and said she was “disgusted with the way he has been treated.” Rapinoe also said that “being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the anthem and felt like I haven’t had my liberties protected, so I can absolutely sympathize with that feeling.”

The Spirit statement the anthem was played ahead of Rapinoe taking the field to not “subject our fans and friends to the disrespect we feel such an act would represent.” It said Spirit owner Bill Lynch is a veteran and the “national anthem holds an exceptionally special meaning for this organization.”

It’s not likely we’ll see an NFL team change anything on its highly scripted and highly regulated pregame itinerary to do something similar, but what the Spirit did is surely an interesting chapter in a story that doesn’t feel like it’s going away anytime soon.

36 responses to “NWSL team plays anthem early, doesn’t let Rapinoe “draw attention to personal cause”

  1. Love it, if you don’t respect your country then stay In the locker room until it’s over. The rest of us appreciate and love this amazing country we live in, while not perfect it beats anywhere else. This is your job, go donate time, protest or whatever on your time not your employers.

  2. “being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the anthem and felt like I haven’t had my liberties protected

    You could not be more wrong.

  3. Yeah, wouldn’t want to take any focus away from the game that might have benefited from a little ratings boost.

    And I thought having nobody watching at home was a business strategy.

  4. It seems to me that most people who are “disgusted” with Kaepernick feel that way, because of the way he conducts himself and his unwillingness or inability to work hard and help his team win.

    Do police have some things to work on? Sure. But Kap lacks the gravitas that someone like Charles Woodson (for example) would have.

    When Mohammed Ali came out against the Vietnam War, he had already done something more than wearing his hat sideways and acting like a big shot. He had already proven he was the best. And he had EARNED some respect.

  5. Yes, everything is well-scripted and choreographed in the NFL … sigh. But this decision by the Spirit was a simple way to quickly address a potential problem without infringing on a player’s right to freely protest. The NWSL team has avoided punishing the player while also keeping a political issue from infringing on the game and creating division among players and fans. Seems like a wise move, which is exactly why I don’t expect Goodell to follow suit.

  6. What the Spirit effectively did was draw more attention to her cause than she could have on her own. Brilliant!

  7. Good for them. This has gotten out of hand and it’s about time a professional organization made a bold move.

    The vast majority of Americans don’t support the way they are protesting and that’s a fact no matter how the media wants this to become a trend. It’s not creating constructive discussion, only creating a bigger division.

  8. Love it!! Yes, I understand they are free to protest. I don’t think they should do it in this manner. How about, get involved? Join a cause? But STAND UP!!!

  9. Those who defend the anthem so heartily have ZERO clue about the subsequent verses. Hilarious.

    All the veterans I know personally have said they defend the freedom to protest the government, regardless of what you protest. That’s a freedom that they are fighting for.

  10. “I haven’t had my liberties protected”

    Seriously, how can you be so oblivious? Gays are a protected, privileged class in America. You’re fawned over and celebrated.

  11. You don’t feel like your liberties have been protected huh? Well I just wonder how your liberties would be protected as a gay women living somewhere in the Middle East? Sometimes being a pro athlete just isn’t enough for these self serving, attention starved narccissits.

  12. Wow. No class. You’d think with all the struggles women have in society that a women’s league would at least respect someone’s stand whether they agree or not. Rapinoe is taking the heat for her position. Let her. It’s a petty weasel move to deny an entire team the opportunity to participate in a tradition. They didn’t even deny the team. They kept it a secret and snuck the anthem in. Pretty cowardly. Says more about them than Rapinoe.

  13. The NFL should play it super-fast so it’s over in about ten seconds, so the players don’t have time to sit down. Or maybe disguise it as a different song.

  14. The girl that’s gotten rich and famous playing in a uniform emblazoned with the American flag and the letters U S A now feels oppressed by those images? A gay woman has been able to not only play for the national team but also win gold medals all over the world while representing that flag.

    That sounds like opportunity to me.

  15. “what the Spirit did is surely an ‘intolerant’ chapter in a story that doesn’t feel like it’s going away anytime soon.”

    fixed it for you

  16. It’s disrespectful. If it’s done in response to disrespect, do two disrespects make a respect?
    Seems silly. Not the cause, mind you, but the action of disrespecting the national anthem and bringing the attention THAT brings upon yourself and your cause. It clouds it a bit… It seems to me that pro and athletes could easily use their voices/platforms to speak/fight for change in ways that don’t show disrespect to a whole country full of millions of people who aren’t their enemies…. but that would be too simple i guess

  17. “being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the anthem and felt like I haven’t had my liberties protected”

    I understand this. It’s a natural thought and I respect that. America has had its darker moments unfortunately. And I’m sure she is right from her POV. But taking a world view, this country has been much better about protecting civil liberties than others in this world.

    I love this country. It’s unfortunate that the role models of today seem to have less regard for it.

  18. “being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the anthem and felt like I haven’t had my liberties protected”
    The fact that you’re gay, play a professional sport in front of thousands (alright hundreds) of people and can kneel during the National Anthem kind of disproves your theory about your liberties not being protected!
    ….or is it all about attention?

  19. Well, done, Washington. This whole issue is one of those contrived leftist things that means nothing and solves nothing. This is a perfect cause for the selfie generation. Too bad these jerks did not live in the 1950’s and 1960’s when there was real racism, not made up ones. Now we have black on white racism.

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