Dallas Mavericks Intelwars Mark Cuban National Anthem National anthem debate star spangled banner Star spangled banner act Texas

Mark Cuban stopped playing the national anthem at Mavericks’ games. Texas Republicans hit back by passing new bill.

Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks stopped playing the national anthem before their NBA home games in February, in what is believed to be the first professional sports team to ban “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games. Texas Republicans were dismayed that the Mavericks wouldn’t play the national anthem before their games, so they hit back at Cuban where it hurts: in the purse strings.

“The Mavericks did not publicize the anthem’s removal,” The Athletic writer Tim Cato reported in February of the NBA team’s decision to stop playing the national anthem. “Multiple team employees described only noticing the anthem’s removal on their own, as it was also not announced or explained internally.”

Cuban attempted to justify not playing the national anthem in 11 regular-season games in February.

“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. I have always stood for the anthem with the hand over my heart — no matter where I hear it played,” Cuban told NPR. “But we also hear the voices of those who do not feel the anthem represents them. We feel they also need to be respected and heard, because they have not been heard. The hope is that those who feel passionate about the anthem being played will be just as passionate in listening to those who do not feel it represents them.”

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was outraged that the Dallas Mavericks stopped playing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and fired off a rebuttal to Cuban.

“Your decision to cancel our National Anthem at @dallasmavs games is a slap in the face to every American & an embarrassment to Texas,” Patrick tweeted. “Sell the franchise & some Texas Patriots will buy it. We ARE the land of free & the home of the brave.”

With pushback from the NBA, the Mavericks resumed playing the national anthem on Feb. 10.

In March, Republican state Rep. Dustin Burrows reacted by sponsoring Senate Bill 4, also known as the “Star-Spangled Banner Act.” The bill allows sports franchises the option to play or not play the national anthem, but teams who don’t play “The Star-Spangled Banner” will forgo any funding from the state.

“It’s very simple. If they do not want to play the national anthem, they don’t take the tax dollars,” Burrows said, according to the Texas Tribune. “If we’re going to go ahead and subsidize with hard-earned American dollars the sporting facilities and the teams in the different ways that I think is articulated in this bill, then this would apply.”

Texas Republicans passed “The Star Spangled Banner Act” on Tuesday, and the bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law.

However, opponents of Senate Bill 4 question the constitutionality of the legislation, and whether linking funding to the playing of the national anthem is an attack on free speech.

“Once again, we’re carrying legislation that is openly and aggressively unconstitutional,” Democratic state Rep. Gene Wu said.

During the debate over the “The Star-Spangled Banner Act” on Monday, Texas Democrats proposed that teams be required to play both the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is the so-called “black national anthem.”

“I don’t even understand why we would feel the need to force someone into singing any song,” Rep. Jasmine Felicia Crockett said. “But if we are going to force people to sing a song, we should at least be mindful of the people playing on these teams, the people that are actually in the stands supporting these teams.”

Despite the decision by the Mavericks, the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars both pledged to play “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games this season.

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US Soccer Athletes’ Council expels member who opposed allowing players to protest national anthem

The U.S. Soccer Federation’s Athletes’ Council voted to remove member Seth Jahn on Sunday, alleging the former captain of the U.S. Soccer 7-a-side Paralympic team made racially insensitive comments that demanded his immediate removal.

What is the background?

On Saturday, the U.S. Soccer Federation’s National Council voted to formally repeal its policy that required athletes to stand during the playing of the national anthem.

ESPN reported:

The vote to repeal Policy 604-1, which took place at the USSF’s annual general meeting on Saturday, received 71.34% of the weighted vote. The policy had already been repealed by the USSF board of directors last June, but it still required a vote from the National Council, which comprises hundreds of voters from across the country representing stakeholders from the youth, adult amateur and professional constituencies, as well as the athletes’ council.

What did Jahn say?

Prior to the vote repealing the policy, Jahn, a U.S. military veteran, spoke out for seven minutes voicing his opposition to repeal.

Jahn centered his criticism on two issues over which athletes have protested the national anthem: policy brutality and slavery.

On the first, Jahn claimed police brutality is “a narrative with relatively zero data to substantiate it.” On the second, Jahn appeared to downplay the significance of race-based chattel slavery, which existed in America between the 17th and 19th centuries.

“I keep hearing how our country was founded on the backs of slaves, even though approximately only 8% of the entire population even owned slaves,” he said. “Every race in the history of mankind has been enslaved by another demographic at some point time. Blacks have been enslaved. Hispanics have been enslaved. Asians most recently in our country in the freaking 20th century have been enslaved. Natives have been enslaved. Whites have been enslaved.”

Jahn went on to say that he supports the First Amendment rights of others, but explained he believes individuals should not express their political opinions when collectively representing America.

“United we stand, divided we kneel,” he said.

How did the federation respond?

The U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council voted Sunday to remove Jahn, claiming he violated U.S. Soccer’s “prohibited conduct policy, specifically the section on harassment,” the Athletic reported.

The Athletic characterized Jahn’s comments as “racist and historically inaccurate.”

In a statement, the U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council said Jahn’s removal was “effective immediately” and said the council wanted to be “unequivocal in its condemnation” of Jahn.

The statement read, in part:

The Athletes’ Council does not tolerate this type of language and finds it incompatible with membership on the Council. While the Council understands that each person has a right to his or her own opinion, there are certain opinions that go beyond the realm of what is appropriate or acceptable.

How did Jahn respond to his removal?

Jahn, who served three tours in Afghanistan during his special forces military career, went scorched-earth on U.S. Soccer.

“I will never apologize for the statements I made, and will never bow down to the mob mentality of intimidation, bullying, or the social media warrior’s gestapo tactics,” he said. “I’m embarrassed to represent a hypocritical federation that conducts a complete assault on diversity of thought.”

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Tennessee GOP lawmakers urge university presidents to prohibit student-athletes from kneeling for the national anthem

Every Republican state senator in Tennessee signed onto a letter recently urging university presidents in the state to prevent student-athletes from kneeling during the national anthem before games.

“In light of recent news reports, we want to address the issue of our student athletes kneeling during the National Anthem prior to sports competitions,” the senators wrote on Monday in reference to a decision by members of the East Tennessee State University men’s basketball team to kneel during the anthem last week in protest of racial inequality.

In the letter, the senators called the anthem “a symbol of pride for America” that “lifts our spirits toward the ideals upon which our great country was founded” and “represents not only the freedoms we enjoy as Americans but the ultimate sacrifice paid by many in order for us to enjoy those freedoms.”

“When they don the jersey of a Tennessee university, they step out of their personal roles and into the role of an ambassador for our state,” the letter continued. “We expect all those who walk onto the field of play representing our universities to also walk onto the field of play to show respect for our National Anthem.”

“To address this issue, we encourage each of you to adopt policies within your respective athletic departments to prohibit any such actions moving forward,” the senators finally stated.

Of course, the senators do not explicitly call for student-athletes who kneel to be punished. But punishment is implicit in their request. After all, how else could university presidents “prohibit” student-athletes from kneeling except by implementing some form of penalty or punishment for doing so?

As should have been expected, the senators’ request immediately garnered criticism for potentially trampling on the students’ First Amendment right to free speech.

A parody account on Twitter, called “The First Amendment,” scolded the senators, suggesting, “Try reading me again or, you know, for the first time.”

Reason writer Robby Soave slammed the senators’ request as “a particularly galling example of Republicans seeking to use the power of the state to squelch speech that they don’t like.”

According to the Tennessean, during a joint session of Congress in Tennessee, some state lawmakers questioned whether broad freedom of speech extends to athletes in uniform at public universities.

One Republican representative, Sen. Mark Pody, called it concerning that student-athletes would engage in an act of protest while “they’re taking state money, they’re in our state schools, in our state uniforms.”

However, the fact is that students at public universities enjoy broad free speech protections, and those rights outlined and reinforced in the student codes of conduct.

Notably, in the landmark decision of Tinker v. Des Moines, the Supreme Court ruled that students “do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

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Jemele Hill says ‘patriotic symbols have been weaponized’ to ‘undermine and diminish the humanity of black and brown Americans’

Sports journalist and writer Jemele Hill declared recently that sports should absolutely nix the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” ahead of games because the practice has merely become an “empty gesture of patriotism.”

Hill also insisted that the national anthem and the American flag have both been “weaponized” against U.S. citizens in order to “undermine and diminish the humanity of black and brown Americans.”

What are the details?

In an article for the Atlantic titled “The Problem with Mandatory Patriotism in Sports,” Hill wrote, “Playing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at sporting events has become an empty gesture of patriotism — so empty that, when the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks quietly began skipping the ritual, 13 preseason and regular-season games passed before anyone noticed.”

Hill was referring to last week’s news that the Dallas Mavericks stopped playing the national anthem before games.

Following the news, the NBA almost immediately responded and said that the national anthem must be played before all games in accordance with league rules. Its response was reportedly a direct rebuff of the Mavericks’ decision.

“The Mavericks should have held their ground,” Hill reasoned, “because playing the national anthem shouldn’t be a pregame ritual in American sports. No during a time when many people — including many athletes of color — are deeply uncomfortable with how patriotic symbols have been weaponized to undermine and diminish the humanity of black and brown Americans.”

National anthem has been interpreted as ‘mocking or threatening’ black people

Insisting that the NBA should altogether revisit its national anthem rule, Hill added, “The ritual enforces a rote, narrow idea of patriotism — one that pro sports should be working to change, not uphold.”

“The anthem has always represented the nation’s hypocrisy more so than its promises,” she insisted. “The lyricist was Francis Scott Key, a Maryland slave owner who once said that Africans in America were a ‘distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.’ Key wrote the song during the War of 1812. The second half of its third verse — which includes the lyric ‘No refuge could save the hireling and slave, from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave’ — has been interpreted as mocking or threatening the black people who escaped their enslavers and fought for the British.”

Hill continued, pointing out that the national anthem, “was meant to rally spectators around American democracy” during sporting events that dated back to the Civil War.

“The song that eventually became the national anthem was meant to rally spectators around American democracy — even if conditions in the United States were deeply unequal,” she added.

Trump and conservatives were able to ‘hijack the conversation’

In contemporary society, Hill noted, “Commentators who did not object when the anthem was used for conservative causes became indignant when Colin Kaepernick used it in 2016 to draw attention to police violence against black people.”

“In taking a knee during ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ the former NFL quarterback unwittingly created an opportunity for former President Donald Trump and other conservatives to hijack the conversation,” Hill insisted. “As a candidate and as president, Trump criticized Kaepernick’s protest to score political points. Real patriots stood for the anthem, Trump and his supporters insisted. And in their view, those who stood – or peacefully kneeled — against injustice were traitors.”

During Trump’s presidency, Hill pointed out, Americans were subjected to “far too many images of white supremacists waving the national flag” while “shouting patriotic slogans.”

“The insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol did just that, even as they tried to overturn a free election,” Hill wrote. “Trump any many other Republicans who impugned Kaepernick’s patriotism now want the rest of the country to ignore the Capitol riot and move on. If it wasn’t clear before why people of color feel uncomfortable with the conservative definition of patriotism, it should be now.”

Hill concluded, “Mandatory patriotism doesn’t give Americans reason for pride; it only highlights the country’s failures.”

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‘We as a country haven’t lived up to our highest ideals’: Biden backs athletes’ right to protest during national anthem, Psaki says

On the heels of the NBA’s roller-coaster ride this week over the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday told reporters that while President Joe Biden respects the national anthem, he also respects the right of players to kneel in protest while it’s played.

What are the details?

A reporter asked Psaki what position Biden is taking on Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban reportedly deciding to stop playing the anthem before his squad’s home games.

While Psaki said she hasn’t spoken to Biden about the specific issue, she did say, “I know he’s incredibly proud to be an American and has great respect for the anthem and all that it represents — especially for our men and women serving in uniform around the world.”

She added, however, that Biden also would say “that part of pride in our country means recognizing moments where we as a country haven’t lived up to our highest ideals, which is often and at times what people are speaking to when they take action at sporting events. And it means respecting the right of people, granted to them in the Constitution, to peacefully protest. That’s why he ran for president in the first place, and that’s what he’s focused on doing every day.”

What’s the background?

After the anthem has’t being played before Mavericks home games, the National Basketball Association on Wednesday issued a statement saying the anthem indeed will be played at every league game for every team.

According to MarketWatch, the league’s statement was “in response” to the Mavericks’ omitting the anthem. And it was quite a shift from NBA spokesman Tim Frank’s earlier statement to the Associated Press, according to NBC Sports: “Under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.”

The New York Times reported that Cuban said “we are good with it” in regard to the league’s insistence on the anthem being played — but the opinionated owner reportedly had other things to say following the NBA’s declaration.

Shams Charania of the Athletic tweeted a partial statement from the Mavericks owner: “We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. I have always stood for the anthem with [my] hand over my heart — no matter where I hear it play. But we also hear the voices of those who do not feel the anthem represents them. We feel they also need to be respected and heard, because they have not been heard.”

Cuban reportedly added in the statement that “the hope is that those who feel passionate about the anthem being played will be just as passionate in listening to those who do not feel it represents them,” Charania noted.

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NBA says national anthem will be played before games — reportedly in response to Mark Cuban saying Mavericks weren’t playing it

That didn’t take long.

On the heels of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban saying the national anthem wasn’t being played before his team’s home games, the National Basketball Association on Wednesday issued a statement saying the anthem indeed will be played.

“With NBA teams now in the process of welcoming fans back into their arenas, all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy,” NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass said in a statement.

According to MarketWatch, the league’s statement was “in response” to Cuban’s anthem revelation.

Which is quite a shift from NBA spokesman Tim Frank’s earlier statement to the Associated Press, according to NBC Sports: “Under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.”

Did Cuban have anything else to say?

The New York Times reported that Cuban said “we are good with it” in regard to the league’s insistence on the anthem being played:

But as you might expect, the opinionated owner reportedly had other things to say following the NBA’s declaration.

Shams Charania of the Athletic tweeted that “Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks will resume playing the Anthem tonight vs. Atlanta.”

Charania added a partial statement from Cuban: “We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. I have always stood for the anthem with [my] hand over my heart — not matter where I hear it play. But we also hear the voices of those who do not feel the anthem represents them. We feel they also need to be respected and heard, because they have not been heard.”

Cuban reportedly added in the statement that “the hope is that those who feel passionate about the anthem being played will be just as passionate in listening to those who do not feel it represents them.”

Anything else?

NBC Sports added that the Mavericks didn’t play “The Star-Spangled Banner” through 11 home games this season and were the only NBA team to not play it — and that the decision was a direct order from Cuban. The outlet added that “there was no discussion of this because there were no fans in the building, and since the anthem is rarely shown on broadcasts it was barely noticed.”

The Los Angeles Times said Cuban said last year in the Florida bubble that players and coaches have the right to kneel during the anthem. The paper said Cuban wrote — in a since-deleted tweet from July — that the “National Anthem Police in this country are out of control. If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why they don’t play the National Anthem every day before you start work.”

Cuban told the New York Times on Tuesday night that he told the Mavericks to stop playing the anthem before its home games — and that “it was my decision, and I made it in November.” He declined to comment further, the paper said.

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Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks have stopped playing the national anthem before games

The Mark Cuban-owned Dallas Mavericks will no longer play the national anthem before their NBA games, according to reports.

What are the details?

Sports Illustrated reported Tuesday that Cuban, ahead of the NBA season, decided that “The Star-Spangled Banner” would no longer be played before Mavericks games.

Sports Illustrated noted that the Mavericks did not publicize the decision, and some players said that they weren’t even aware of the move until they discovered it on their own.

The outlet said, “This is believed to be the first instance of a professional team getting rid of the U.S. national anthem from the pre-game, according to the Athletic. Major League Soccer did not play the anthem during a tournament in 2020 in Orlando that did not have fans present, but teams have since started playing it prior to their home games.”

Cuban has not publicly spoken out on the move at the time of this reporting and declined to comment to the Athletic.

According to the Washington Post, however, “The Mavericks have not played the anthem in their first 13 preseason and regular season home games, breaking with a universal practice for professional sports in America — but one that has become fraught in recent years as athletes have seized on the moment to protest racial injustice and other causes. Cuban denied to The Post a report from The Athletic, the first to break the story, that the organization had decided not to play ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at the American Airlines Center moving forward.”

“That is incorrect,” Cuban told the Post. “We have given no comment on what our plans are.”

The outlet also reported that Cuban did not respond to questions regarding why he directed the organization not to play the national anthem so far this season.

It also pointed out that the Mavericks have chosen to avoid playing the national anthem in the past.

“As the New York Times pointed out, the team, then owned by Donald Carter, played ‘God Bless America’ before games for the club’s first 16 years,” the outlet reported. “The team switched to ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ in 1996 when Ross Perot Jr. became owner, four years before Cuban took over.”

What else?

A spokesperson for the NBA told the outlet that “under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.”

In July, Cuban told ESPN that he supported his players’ desire to kneel during the playing of the national anthem.

“If they were taking a knee, and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them,” he reasoned. “Hopefully, I’d join them.”

Sports Illustrated reported that just two days after that remark, Cuban tweeted, “The National Anthem Police in this country are out of control. If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why don’t they the National Anthem every day before you start work.”

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HS principal allegedly says football players should stand for national anthem or quit team. Now he’s on leave.

A Louisiana high school principal is under fire after a text he allegedly sent saying that football players should stand for the national anthem or quit the team.

What are the details?

Rob Howle — principal of Liberty High School in Baton Rouge — is on administrative leave after allegedly texting a suggestion to make it “mandatory that the players stand for the national anthem or this team will never get [any more] support from the administration,” WBRZ-TV reported.

The station said a handful of students took a knee during the anthem at the first game. WBRZ added that the text in question also said “that was embarrassing. Playing football is a privilege not a right. If they don’t want to stand they can turn in their equipment and we will refund their money.”

Image source: WBRZ-TV video screenshot

An image of the text message, dated Oct. 1, was posted on social media and came to the attention of the East Baton Rouge Parish school system on Thursday, the Advocate reported.

What else did the district have to say?

Taylor Gast, a spokeswoman for the school system, told the Advocate the message appears to be real and that the recipient of the text also works for the school system — but Gast would not identify that individual.

The Advocate also said the district issued a statement Thursday saying it launched an investigation and that “… as a result, an administrator has been placed on administrative leave.” Gast identified the administrator as Howle, the outlet said, adding that Howle did not return a message seeking comment.

The district told WBRZ it “respects students’ rights to freedom of speech and expression” and cited the following policy concerning the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem:

At the beginning of each school day, time shall be permitted for those students and teachers desiring to do so to observe a brief time in silent meditation (not intended or identified as a religious exercise), which shall not exceed five minutes, and for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

Every assembly or meeting in each school should begin with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and with the playing or the singing of the National Anthem, and all students shall be encouraged to learn the words of the National Anthem. Throughout the playing (singing) of the National Anthem and/or the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, students shall be encouraged to exhibit respectful behavior.

Anything else?

Liberty High is a new name for the school. The Advocate said its old name — Lee High — was tossed in July amid the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd in late May in Minneapolis. The outlet added that Lee High opened in 1959 as Robert E. Lee High School, named after the Confederate general.

Howle is starting his third year as principal, the Advocate said, adding that soon after he took over he relaunched the football program that had been dormant for a decade.

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NFL icon Mike Ditka says players who kneel should respect the country or ‘get the hell out!’

Legendary former NFL coach Mike Ditka criticized the current pro football players who kneeled to protest during the national anthem and said that he couldn’t understand why anyone would protest.

Ditka, a former Chicago Bears player-coach and Hall of Famer, made the comments during an interview with Newsmax TV.

“Football’s football. It’s not a complicated thing. You’re playing the game, you’re enjoying the game,” Ditka said.

“You don’t like the game, get out of it. It’s not for protesting one way or the other. What color you are, what you think, this or that. You play football. That’s it,” he continued.

“You’re privileged. You got a gift from God that you can play the game because you got a body you can do it with,” Ditka said. “I don’t really understand what you’re protesting. I played the game. I coached the game for a long time. It makes no sense to me.”

Ditka, 80, went on to say that players were disrespecting the United States with the protest and that they should leave the country instead of criticizing it.

“I would tell those players go to another country and play football there. You don’t have to come out,” Ditka said. “You don’t have to come out if you go to another country. You can’t! Because the game’s only played in this country. And if you can’t respect this country, get the hell out of it.”

‘There has been no oppression’

Ditka has previously made similar comments about those players who joined the kneeling protests. In a particularly controversial incident in 2017, he was criticized heavily for saying he didn’t think there had been any oppression in the last 100 years.

“All of a sudden, it has become a big deal now — about oppression,” Ditka said at the time. “There has been no oppression in the last hundred years that I know of. Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people.”

He later clarified his comments and claimed that the media was intentionally misleading the public about what he said he meant.

“The characterization of the statement that I made does not reflect the context of the question that I was answering and certainly does not reflect my views throughout my lifetime,” said Ditka. “I have absolutely seen oppression in society in the last 100 years and I am completely intolerant of any discrimination. The interview was about the NFL and the related issues. That’s where my head was at.”

Here’s the video of Ditka’s more recent comments:

Mike Ditka: Get the hell out

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Baltimore Ravens players stand for black national anthem — then take a knee when ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is played

Many Baltimore Ravens players stood during the playing of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” known as the black national anthem, before Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns — then took a knee when the U.S. national anthem was played, according to Outkick.

The NFL is playing the black national anthem before all of its opening week games as a part of its anti-racism initiatives, which include social justice messaging in the end zones and around the stadiums, as well as pregame presentations.

Playing “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” has caused some division among players on different teams, however, as they try to decide whether to stand for both anthems, kneel for both, or remain off the field until the anthems are completed.

The Miami Dolphins announced Thursday that they would be staying in the locker room for both anthems, because they didn’t want to participate in the NFL’s “fluff and empty gestures.”

The Houston Texans did the same before their Thursday night game, with Texans safety Michael Thomas saying they made the decision because they didn’t want to be divisive by protesting one anthem and not the other.

“And today, going out for either anthem — to us, it would’ve been a distraction,” Thomas said according to ESPN. “And we just wanted to, again, make a decision as a team, and we decided it would probably be best if we all stayed in. And that’s the decision we made, and we were just going to go out there and play.”

Regardless of what the NFL’s intentions may have been for including “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” in its pregame ceremonies, it has created a dilemma for some players and supporters who have insisted that kneeling during the national anthem is not a specifically anti-American gesture; that stance becomes harder to defend when players stand for a black national anthem and kneel for the U.S. anthem.

The originator of anthem kneeling, former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, doesn’t approve of any of the league’s social justice efforts. The quarterback-turned-activist referred to it as “propaganda.”

The ratings for the NFL’s season opener were significantly lower than the previous year, and anecdotally, many fans have expressed online that they don’t want to watch the games because of the league’s heavy emphasis on social justice demonstrations.

Black national anthem Intelwars Lift ev'ry voice and sing Monday Night Football National Anthem Stephanie druley

ESPN will televise NFL players’ protesting, singing of black national anthem on Monday Night Football

ESPN will televise any NFL players protesting the national anthem beginning on Monday — and will also feature the singing of the “black national anthem,” according to reports.

What are the details?

Monday Night Football’s Monday debut will likely be chock-full of protesters and will have two songs.

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN — which typically shows the honor guard and the singing of the national anthem — will have a decidedly different format this season.

The network also reportedly has plans to televise the singing of the “black national anthem,” a song called “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.”

ESPN Executive Vice President of Event and Studio Production Stephanie Druley told reporters, “Our policy is to cover the anthem when it’s newsworthy. That’s not going to change. We are going to continue as we’ve done with the NBA and the WNBA. We will cover social justice movements, actions, as they happen. We’re not going to shy away from that.”

Druley added, “Look, we’re going to keep our main rule, which is when it intersects with sports, we’re going to cover it, and look, we don’t see the social justice movement as being political. It’s social justice.”

When asked if viewers would be able to see the playing of the national anthem, Druley said she didn’t know.

“We will make a judgment call every week,” she responded. “But I can tell you that Week 1, that first game, you will see the anthem — and you will see ‘Lift Ev’ry Voice.'”

‘The country is going through a lot of political situations’

According to the report, NFL players will “be encouraged to salute victims of police brutality by placing details with their names on their helmets.”

“The league will also stencil social justice statements such as ‘End Racism’ and ‘It Takes All of Us’ in end zones this season,” the report continued. “The league will play ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ before each game during opening weekend.”

On Tuesday, CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus issued similar remarks.

“We don’t forget the fact that the country is going through a lot of political situations with Black Lives Matter, social justice and social injustice,” he said. “We’re not going to ignore that. Obviously, we’re going to address it in our pregame show, with interviews and features. But the coverage of the game, once we get to our game coverage, will obviously be focusing on presenting the action on the field. But we don’t forget and we don’t ignore those other two elements.”

McManus pointed out that a delicate balance needs to be struck with regard to this highly unique season’s viewership.

“We need to thread the needle just the right way. Because there are people who are tuning in just to hear about football. So we need to make sure that we don’t overdo the emphasis on what’s going on in our country,” McManus explained. “But we’re not going to ignore it. Our announcers on-site at the games are not going to condone and they’re not going to condemn what’s going on. They’re going to report it — and they’re going to move on.”

The New York Giants will face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday, and the Tennessee Titans will square off against the Denver Broncos.

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NFL sees double-digit ratings drop for season opener loaded with social justice activism

The NFL’s season-opening game between the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans drew disappointing TV ratings fueling continued questions about whether increased political activism in sports is driving fans away.

Preliminary Nielsen ratings show that 16.4 million people tuned in to the Thursday night primetime game, which is a 16% decrease from the number of people who watched last season’s opener between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.

Ratings in professional sports have been down since returning from their coronavirus-related hiatus, despite people being more likely to be stuck at home and having been deprived of sports on TV for months. Some fans have expressed a dislike of overt social justice demonstrations that have taken over in football and basketball.

The NFL featured social justice messages in the end zones, a playing of the black national anthem before the game, and players locking arms before the game as social justice messages were broadcast on the scoreboard. And even those efforts were further politicized by the Texans, who stayed in the locker room while the national anthems were played as a protest against “empty gestures.”

There weren’t many fans at the game due to social distancing for COVID-19, but some of the fans in attendance booed players during a moment of silence before the game, apparently displeased with the social justice presentation.

The NBA playoff ratings during the first round were alarmingly low, down 27% from 2019 and 40% from 2018. The NBA’s social justice displays have been even more ubiquitous than the NFL’s. “Black Lives Matter” is painted on the court in large letters for every game, and players display social justice messages on the back of their jerseys while coaches sport “Racial Justice” badges on their shirts.

A recent Harris Poll found that politics has been a top reason people are turning away from the NBA:

A new Harris Poll backs Trump’s critique of the NBA, with 39% of sports fans saying they are watching fewer games. And the chief reason why? Politics. The longtime polling agency surveyed nearly 2,000 people over the weekend and gave people ten options to choose from on why they are watching less basketball.

“The league has become too political” was the clear choice for the decline, with 38% of respondents. “Boring without fans” captured 28% of the vote while the NBA’s association with China caused 19% of sports fans to turn the dial, another nod to a league Trump labeled a “political organization” last week after players boycotted games in response to a police officer shooting Jacob Blake seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The poll found that Republicans were more likely to be turned off by the league’s politics that Democrats.

Black national anthem Intelwars Lift ev'ry voice and sing Miami Dolphins National Anthem NFL star spangled banner

Miami Dolphins to stay in locker room during national anthem and black national anthem pregame ceremonies

The Miami Dolphins will stay in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem and the black national anthem before their 2020 season opener Sunday against the New England Patriots, ESPN reported.

The NFL, attempting to participate in the social and racial justice demonstrations that have escalated over the past four months, will play “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” which is known as the black national anthem, as well as “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Week 1 games.

The Dolphins are opting to not participate in either ceremony, saying they’re not interested in any more “empty gestures” that don’t contribute toward real and lasting change.

“This attempt to unify only creates more divide,” Dolphins players said in a video released Thursday. “So we’ll skip this song and dance, and as a team we’ll stay inside. We need changed hearts, not just a response to pressure. Enough, no more fluff and empty gestures. We need owners with influence and pockets bigger than ours to call up officials and flex political power.”

In their video, Dolphins players said they want team owners to use their wealth and political influence to push for legislative change, such as prison and police reform.

Much of the conversation surrounding social justice in the NFL has been hung up on the pregame national anthem. Since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem to raise awareness about police brutality against minorities, players on numerous teams have continued that protest — a demonstration that is divisive among fans, and has turned some away from the league completely.

The Dolphins players feel the emphasis on symbolic gestures during the national anthem has become an obstacle to substantive social justice reform, so they are responding by performing a different, perhaps more dramatic symbolic gesture during the national anthem, and producing a video to announce it ahead of time.

The game is scheduled at 1 p.m. ET in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

During the NFL season opener Thursday night between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, the Chiefs players stood for the anthem, while the Texans stayed in the locker room. When the two teams locked arms on the field as social justice messages were displayed on the scoreboard before kickoff, some fans booed during a moment of silence.

“I didn’t fully understand that,” Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said of the booing. “There was no flag involved. There was nothing other than two teams coming together to show unity.”

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NFL won’t have live national anthem performances, may bar military and police honor guards from field

The NFL won’t have any live performances of the national anthem before games this season, as it reportedly attempts to limit the number of people with access to the field to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, according to Front Office Sports.

The tradition of having performers sing the national anthem before games has become a source of controversy due to social justice protests. Although the anthem won’t be performed live, there will still be recordings of the song played before the game.

The NFL could also limit the presence of military and police honor guards on the field. Those groups are often a part of the national anthem ceremony at games.

While there may be less ceremony surrounding the national anthem in the NFL in 2020, there will be more in the way of social justice protests and signs of support for anti-racism initiatives. From ESPN’s The Undefeated:

“Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing,” traditionally known as the Black national anthem, is expected to be performed live or played before every Week 1 NFL game, and the league is considering a variety of other measures during the upcoming season to recognize victims of police brutality, a source familiar with the league’s discussions told The Undefeated on Thursday.

The song would be performed before “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the source said. The NFL’s season opener is scheduled for Sept. 10, with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans.

Having recently displayed increased awareness about the problems of systemic racism, the NFL, in collaboration with the NFL Players Association, is also considering listing the names of victims on uniforms through decals on helmets or patches on jerseys. The NFL also may produce educational programs about victims, among other plans.

The NFL will also place social justice messages in the end zones during Week 1 instead of the typical team brand imagery, including “End Racism” and “It Takes All of Us.”

President Donald Trump has continued his criticism of national anthem protests in the NFL and NBA, telling Outkick’s Clay Travis that he would rather the seasons not be played than for players to protest during the anthem.

“Well, they wanna open and they wanna open badly,” Trump said. “They’ve been working with government. I would say this, if they don’t stand for the national anthem I hope they don’t open. But other than that, I would love to see them open and we’re doing everything possible for them getting them open. I think they can protest in other ways. They shouldn’t protest our flag or our country.”

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Steve Kerr ripped for silence on China after complaining about critics of national anthem protests

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was slammed online for his silence on human rights abuses in China after complaining about critics of national anthem protests.

The NBA restarted its season on Thursday, the first games since shutting down in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, every NBA player, except one, has knelt during the national anthem.

Previously, the NBA had a rule requiring players to stand during the national anthem. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has dismissed the rule for the rebooted season due to the nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.

“I respect our teams’ unified act of peaceful protest for social justice and under these unique circumstances will not enforce our long-standing rule requiring standing during the playing of our national anthem,” Silver said on Thursday.

On Friday, Kerr defended the kneeling protests and addressed critics who don’t support players kneeling during the national anthem.

“With NBA games now in full force, the inevitable race baiting ‘kneeling is a sign of disrespect!’ tweets are coming,” Kerr tweeted. “Our message is clear: We love our country. And we also believe that this nation can and must do better to eliminate racism and bigotry. That is why we kneel.”

Twitter users were quick to point out Kerr’s silence regarding China’s human rights abuses.

Kerr was mocked by conservative commentator Stephen Miller, who replied, “Steve, I speak for all Americans when I say we’re just relieved China has given you permission to once again speak out on important social and human rights abuses.”

National Review contributor Pradheep J. Shanker inquired, “Cool. You ready to speak out against China yet…or nah?”

Curtis Houck, Managing Editor at Newsbusters, asked, “Now how about ‘do[ing] better to eliminate racism and bigotry’ in China? Or do the concentration camps there not matter?”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) proposed that Kerr and NBA players respect the American flag.

“Here’s a better idea: stand for the anthem, to honor our Nation & the heroes who died for our freedom,” Cruz responded. “And then support school choice by donating 10% of your salaries for scholarships for low-income children to attend excellent schools.”

Noam Blum, Tablet Magazine associate editor, asked, “Any word on ESPN’s expose of your training program in Xinjiang or nah?”

The tweet was a reference to a bombshell report in ESPN that exposed violence in the NBA’s training academies in China. The report features testimony from anonymous American coaches who were employed at the NBA training academies, including one in the Xinjiang province where more than a million Uighur Muslims are imprisoned.

The report alleges that young players were physically abused by Chinese coaches and were not provided proper schooling, despite Silver promising that education would be “central” to the program.

“Imagine you have a kid who’s 13, 14 years old, and you’ve got a grown coach who is 40 years old hitting your kid,” a coach told ESPN. “We’re part of that. The NBA is part of that.”

The NBA specifically told the coaches not to reveal the abuse.

Last month, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) blasted the NBA for its close relationship with China.

The NBA is allowing players to select a message that will be displayed on the backs of their jerseys. The list of 29 approved social and political messages includes “Black Lives Matter,” “How Many More,” “Power to the People,” “I Can’t Breathe,” and “Anti-Racist.”

Hawley wrote a letter to Silver, which asked why there were no phrases “in support of victims of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), including the people of Hong Kong, whose remaining freedoms are being extinguished by the CCP’s newly-enacted national security law.” Hawley challenged Silver to allow NBA players to stand up for the Uighur Muslims who are being held in Chinese internment camps.

ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski lashed out at Hawley by cursing at the Missouri senator. Wojnarowski apologized and was suspended by ESPN for two weeks for the outburst.

Black Lives Matter Intelwars Kneeling protests National Anthem NHL Protesting during the anthem

There’s no kneeling in the NHL: No less than 6 teams link arms, stand together during national anthem to show unity

Players from the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Dallas Stars, and Nashville Predators all stood to honor the playing of the national anthem in recent games.

Not one single player kneeled.

What are the details?

On Tuesday, players for the Flyers and Penguins
stood together in solidarity before their exhibition opener in Toronto.

The respective teams stood together on the blue lines to show solidarity — and the Penguins made sure the message was clear.

In a tweet, the beloved Pittsburgh team
wrote, “The Penguins and Flyers, two of the fiercest rivals in sports, united in solidarity this afternoon, to stand up against social injustice, racism, and hate.”

“The teams stood as one across each club’s respective blue lines prior to today’s game,” the tweet added.

The tweet has been liked 8,000 times at the time of this reporting.

According to
NBC Sports, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said, “A lot has happened since we played our last game. And we felt, both teams, that it was important to show unity given what’s gone on and just wanted to be part of the solution moving forward.”

What else?

The Stars and Predators also linked arms Tuesday afternoon before their exhibition game.

Stars captain Jamie Benn said, “You’ve seen all the other teams do it. We had some chats with Nashville and talked with [Predators captain] Roman Josi. We thought it would be good to mix it up, link arms. We stand for equality and I think it’s important we keep talking about it and keep improving it.”

According to The Dallas Morning News, NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer said that the league would host an “opening night that we think will be memorable and powerful as we honor frontline pandemic workers and those who are fighting for social justice.”

A new trend on the horizon?

On Tuesday, NBC Sports reported that the Boston Bruins and the Columbus Blue Jackets had the same plans for their game Thursday night. And the two teams did, indeed, gather — arms linked — in a circle.

“Over the past several months we have been trying to educate ourselves and learn more about racial injustice in our country and around the world. As a team we have decided to lock arms during the playing of the United States and Canadian Anthems as a sign of solidarity with the Black community,” a spokesperson for the Bruins told the outlet.

“This action is solely intended to be a positive sign of support for the Black community, and a way for us to use our platform to help end racism,” the statement concluded.

A spokesperson for the Blue Jackets added, “Our team is joining the Boston Bruins in locking arms as a positive sign of support for the Black community prior to the playing of the National Anthems.”

“As a group and as individuals, we have and will continue to listen and learn about racial injustice,” the Blue Jackets’ statement continued. “Through our platform, we hope to continue the important conversations about equality.

“Racism and prejudice have no place in hockey and no place in society,” the Columbus team concluded.

flag Intelwars National Anthem National anthem protests NFL Pittsburgh steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers lineman Stephon Tuitt declares he will never kneel for the flag: ‘Screw anybody’ who’s got a problem with that

Kneeling for the flag during the national anthem might be all the rage for most NFL players, but do not count Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt among them.

And unlike some NFL stars who initially appeared to take a stand against kneeling and then backpedaled and apologized, he is making no bones about his stance and seems to have no plans to retreat.

In fact, he has a response for those who might have a problem with his refusal to take a knee: screw you.

What did he say?

In a tweet Monday morning, Tuitt had a message for football fans, social justice warriors, teammates, or coaches who are all in on the national anthem kneeling movement: “I’m not kneeling for the flag and screw anybody who have [sic] a problem with that.”

He went on to note how he would not show disrespect to the flag of the country where his family — starting with his grandmother — found a home and prospered. The star lineman added that his family of immigrants came to the United States “the right way.”

Tuitt said his “grandmother was a [sic] immigrant from the Carribbean” who “worked her ass off to bring 20 people over the right way.”

“She had no money and educated herself to be a nurse,” Tuitt wrote, adding that his family matriarch is “living good now.”

Tuitt’s position stands in stark contrast to some other NFL stars who have been caught up in respect-for-the-flag controversies.

Fellow Steeler Alejandro Villanueva — a U.S. Army Ranger veteran who graduated from West Point and served three tours in Afghanistan — famously stood alone for the national anthem as the rest of his team stood in the tunnel on Sept. 24, 2017. His move was initially seen as a defiant stance against protesting during the anthem and was celebrated by many football fans and conservatives. He later apologized for the move, saying he had made a mistake that “threw his teammates under the bus unintentionally,” and explained that the whole event was a mix-up.

More recently, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees came under fire for saying he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America.”

“I love and respect my teammates, and I stand right there with them in regard to fighting for racial equality and justice,” Brees told Yahoo Finance in June. “I also stand with my grandfathers, who risked their lives for this country, and countless other military men and women who do it on a daily basis.”

Some of Brees’ teammates were upset over his remarks, including Malcolm Jenkins, who blasted his QB’s statement as “extremely self-centered.” Jenkins further stated, “We’re done talking, Drew. And people who share your sentiments, who express those and push them throughout the world, the airwaves, are the problem”

One day later, Brees was in apology mode: “I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused.”

“I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability,” he continued. “I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening … and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.”

(H/T: HotAir)

American Flag David mulugheta Intelwars Kneeling protests Mike Ditka National Anthem Patriotism Tmz sports

Prominent sports agent savages Mike Ditka over pro-America remarks: ‘He traded his helmet in for a white hood’

David Mulugheta, president of Athletes First, says famed NFL coach Mike Ditka is racist for his remarks about respecting the American national anthem.

In a recent interview, Ditka told TMZ Sports that he believes there are only two options when it comes to kneeling protests: respect the national anthem or leave the country.

What are the details?

In a Sunday tweet, the Athletes First president wrote, “This doesn’t surprise me at all. Mike Ditka tradded his helmet in for a white hood as soon as he retired from football. Racism hiding behind faux patriotism is still racism.”

Athletes First represents Aaron Rodgers, Derwin James, Earl Thomas, and more.

In the now-viral TMZ Sports interview, Ditka, 80, said, “If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country. That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old-fashioned. So, I’m only going to say what I feel. I think there’s a way you protest, and there’s a way you don’t protest.”

He added, “You don’t protest against the flag, and you don’t protest against this country who’s given you the opportunities to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen. So I don’t want to hear all the crap.”

‘He’s a racist’

Later on Sunday, Mulugheta responded to a Twitter user who insisted that respecting the national anthem is not racist.

“I totally agree…and the sun is hot,” he wrote. “Neither have anything to do with people kneeling during the anthem.”

By Monday, he was on a “Ditka is racist” roll and doubled down on his initial remarks condemning the famed and well-loved NFL coach.

In the tweet, Mulugheta offered “evidence” of Ditka’s racism, but refused to provide context to the evidence he set forth to bolster his incendiary remarks.

“Dikta isn’t a racist simply because he believes people should stand for the anthem, it’s because of his many racist beliefs,” he explained in a follow-up tweet. “One example, he claims ‘there has been no oppression in the last 100 years.’ To be clear, segregation ended less than 55 years ago. So yea he’s a racist.”

‘I have absolutely seen oppression in society’

In 2017, Ditka addressed the kneeling protests and said, “All of a sudden, it’s become a big deal now, about oppression. There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people. I think the opportunity is there for everybody. … If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort into yourself, I think you can accomplish anything.”

He added, “Is that the stage for this? If you want to protest, or whatever you want to protest, you’ve got a right to do that, but I think you’re a professional athlete, you have an obligation to the game. I think you have to respect the game. That’s what I think is the most important thing. I don’t see a lot of respect for the game. I just see respect for their own individual opinions. Opinions are like noses, we all have one. Some are good. Some are bad.”

He, however, retooled his remarks and issued a heartfelt apology almost immediately following the criticism he received.

“The characterization of the statement that I made does not reflect the context of the question that I was answering and certainly does not reflect my views throughout my lifetime,” Ditka said in a statement at the time. “I have absolutely seen oppression in society in the last 100 years and I am completely intolerant of any discrimination.”

Ditka added, “The interview was about the NFL and the related issues. That’s where my head was at. I was quoted in the interview stating, ‘You have to be colorblind.’ I stated that you should look at a person for what they are and not the color of their skin. I’m sorry if anyone was offended.”

Football Intelwars Mike Ditka National Anthem National anthem protests star spangled banner X league

Mike Ditka shreds anthem protesters: ‘If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country’

Famed NFL coach Mike Ditka says if people can’t respect the national anthem, they should leave America.

What are the details?

In a now-viral interview with
TMZ Sports, the beloved former Chicago Bears coach aired his grievances about people who don’t treat the country with utmost respect.

“If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country,” he sniped. “That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old-fashioned. So, I’m only going to say what I feel. I think there’s a way you protest, and there’s a way you don’t protest.”

Ditka, 80, also hit out at athletes who kneel during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“You don’t protest against the flag, and you don’t protest against this country who’s given you the opportunities to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen,” he added. “So I don’t want to hear all the crap.”

This isn’t the first time he’s spoken out against national anthem protests: In 2016, he blasted former NFL player-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick for ushering in the trend.

At the time, Ditka said, “I have no respect for Colin Kaepernick — he probably has no respect for me, that’s his choice. My choice is, I like this country, I respect our flag, and I don’t see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on.”

Mike Ditka Against Anthem Kneeling In New Football League, Leave the Country! | TMZ Sports

Ditka, who is set to take over as owner and chairman of the X League — a woman’s tackle football organization — also said that if he has his way, no women will demonstrate during the X League games.

He added, however, that he doesn’t have final say in whether women will be permitted to kneel according to the league’s national anthem policy.

The outlet reports that the new league will feature eight teams in areas such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle, and is set to kick off in April 2021.

“These women are pretty and good-looking and want to knock the crap out of each other,” he joked. “We’ll see how it works!”

Of the league, Ditka also said, “Now from an ownership and executive perspective, I want to provide women a high-profile platform to compete against the greatest female athletes in the world while creating a destination league for millions of girls to aspire to play in.”

“It’s time to give women, and girls, the same opportunity to play the game that the men play,” he added.


Colin Kaepernick Intelwars Kneel National Anthem National anthem protests Wnba

WNBA players decide not to kneel during national anthem — they just walk off the court instead

Forget taking a knee during the national anthem. That’s so yesterday.

As far as the WNBA is concerned, the NFL — and now Major League Baseball — can have that protest to themselves.

Instead, the New York Liberty and the Seattle Storm pulled out a new move: They just walked off the court as the national anthem played, EPSN reported.

What’s that now?

During the 2016 NFL pre-season, then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before games, and the movement caught on among many of his fellow players and continues to this day.

In the wake of the George Floyd killing and as social justice movements have gathered steam across the U.S., kneeling has become increasingly popular.

Apparently, it has become so popular that it’s now passé, so two WNBA teams decided to take it up a notch and garner more attention.

The Liberty and Storm elected to walk off the court Saturday during the playing of the national anthem before the WNBA season opener at Florida’s Feld Entertainment Center where all of the WNBA’s 22-game regular season will be played.

The players also took time to honor the memory of Breonna Taylor, a Louisville, Kentucky, EMT who was killed in March during a no-knock police search warrant in her home.

Police shot Taylor, 26, during a raid on her home to search for drugs — which were never found. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, believed the cops were home invaders and shot at them, striking one in the leg.

None of the officers involved in Taylor’s killing have been changed in her death.

Before the game, the Liberty’s Layshida Clarendon and the Storm’s Breanna Stewart addressed the cameras to promote the “Say Her Name” campaign and asked for a 26-second moment of silence.

Image source: ESPN video screenshot

WNBA teams are wearing Taylor’s name on their jerseys this year in honor of the young woman and as a call for justice in her death.

As with the NBA, the WNBA is all about social justice this year, ESPN noted:

Social justice is a major part of the season for the WNBA players. The words “Black Lives Matter” are on the courts at Feld. The Social Justice Council on Wednesday held a Zoom call with Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, who shared memories of Taylor with the players. Also on the call were Georgia attorney and politician Stacey Abrams and professor Kimberle Crenshaw, who started the “Say Her Name” campaign that raises awareness for Black female victims of police brutality.

anthem Hill stand Intelwars National Anthem Rachel hill Short ertz

US soccer player Rachel Hill chose to stand for the anthem when everyone else kneeled. Now, she’s explaining why.

Last week during the launch of the NSWL’s 2020 Challenge Cup, Chicago Red Stars soccer player Rachel Hill made headlines for choosing to remain standing during the national anthem — while the rest of her team kneeled.

Her teammates kneeling in support of “black lives matter” protests included Julie Ertz and Casey Short, who embraced with tears next to her. While the anthem played, Hill bowed her head and placed her hand on Short’s shoulder.

After images from the pregame activities emerged, social media users both criticized and applauded the 25-year-old Hill for her decision to stand.

Likely as a result of the pressure of being in the national spotlight, Hill posted an explanation of her decision on Instagram, Wednesday, saying the decision to stand was one that “did not come easily or without profound thought.”

“Before the game, I was completely torn on what to do,” she said. “I spoke with friends, family, and teammates — of all races, religions and backgrounds — with the hope of guidance.”

Hill then explained that while she supported the message of kneeling, she chose to stand for the anthem on behalf of the military members of her family.

“I chose to stand because of what the flag inherently means to my military family members and me, but I 100% percent support my peers,” she said. “Symbolically, I tried to show this with the placement of my hand on Casey’s shoulder and bowing my head.”

“If this wasn’t clear, let my words and further actions be,” she added. “I support the black lives matter movement wholeheartedly. I also support and will do my part in fighting against the current inequality. As a white athlete, it is way past due for me to be diligently anti-racist.”

Video of the pregame activities shows that while every one of Hill’s teammates chose to kneel, a few players on the opposing team, the Washington Spirit, opted to stand like Hill.

In a joint statement with Ertz regarding their decision to kneel, Short specifically addressed a conversation she had with Hill following the game.

“I, Casey, can only speak for myself but the conversations I have had with players, specifically Rachel, have been unapologetically authentic,” Short said. “I have to ask where my hope lies. It lies in my faith and those types of conversations that have been long overdue. The types of conversations that are raw and uncomfortable, that can lead to real impactful change.”

In a statement released Sunday, the National Women’s Soccer League said that while it is “proud” of its players for bringing attention to social justice, it is supportive of all players regardless of their “personal decision” to stand or kneel during the anthem.

The Spirit won the game 2-1.

Francis scott key IMAGiNE Intelwars John Lennon National Anthem Racism SLAVERY star spangled banner watch

If ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is canceled as national anthem, activist suggests singing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ instead

Amid the astonishing groundswell of cancel culture doing away with statues, movies, TV shows, syrup — and just about anything else that radical leftists can connect to racism or bigotry or general un-woke-ness, past or present — the national anthem of the United States is beginning to feel the heat as well.

What are the details?

The editor-in-chief of Yahoo Music put together an
article asking if it’s time to replace “The Star-Spangled Banner” with a different anthem — due primarily to racism accusations against the man who wrote its words, Francis Scott Key.

Indeed, protesters last weekend
pulled down Key’s statue in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for that reason — along with one of former Union General and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant:

Francis Scott Key statue toppled in San Francisco

In addition, the Tulsa Athletic — a National Premier Soccer League squad in Oklahoma — on Wednesday said it no longer would play “The Star-Spangled Banner” at home matches and will now play “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie instead, which the team called “a new song of patriotism.”

The Yahoo Music piece cites a
quote attributed to Key — taken from the book “Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835” by Jefferson Morley — calling Africans in America “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.”

Black activist and journalist Kevin Powell was interviewed for the article and spoke at length about Key, saying “he was a very well-to-do lawyer in Washington, D.C., and eventually became very close to President Andrew Jackson, who was the Donald Trump of his time, which means that there was a lot of hate and violence and division. At that time, there were attacks on Native Americans and Black folks — both free Black folks and folks who were slaves — and Francis Scott Key was very much a part of that. He was also the brother-in-law of someone who became a Supreme Court justice, Roger Taney, who also had a very hardcore policy around slavery. And so, all of that is problematic. And the fact that Key, when he was a lawyer, also prosecuted abolitionists, both white and Black folks who wanted slavery to end, says that this is someone who really did not believe in freedom for all people. And yet, we celebrate him with this national anthem, every time we sing it.”

More from Yahoo Music:

In fact “The Star-Spangled Banner,” based on a poem Key wrote about his eyewitness account of the War of 1812, originally featured a little-heard third stanza that was blatantly racist: “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave/And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave/O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” While that version of the song is rarely performed today, Powell has been aware of it for years, and … has therefore refused to sing the anthem since he was in high school in the 1980s, when he first learned of its history.

And what about black artists who’ve performed iconic versions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” over the years?

“The issue is
not Black people’s patriotism. I mean, there’s very few folk that are as patriotic as African Americans,” Powell told Yahoo Music. “The way I look at it is, I think what Jimi Hendrix did with ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at Woodstock, or the way that Marvin Gaye reinterpreted it and made it a soul song, or Whitney Houston singing it at the Super Bowl in 1991, it became something that belonged to all people, not just folks that thought we should just blindly sing this song. And that’s what we do: take these opportunities to perform it because it’s a way to showcase one of the greatest gifts to the world, which is music.”

What song could replace it?

And if “The Star-Spangled Banner” is ever canceled like so many other iconic parts of American history have been in the last few weeks, Powell told the outlet that John Lennon’s “Imagine” would be an ideal national anthem. In fact, Powell noted to Yahoo Music that the tune penned by the famed member of the Beatles is “the most beautiful, unifying, all-people, all-backgrounds-together kind of song you could have.”

Of course, “Imagine” is openly atheist and humanistic, as its opening lines say, “Imagine there’s no heaven / It’s easy if you try / No hell below us / Above us only sky / Imagine all the people living for today” and then later “Imagine … no religion too.”

Imagine – John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band (w the Flux Fiddlers) (official music video HD long v)

Or maybe not?

Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire, put together an entertaining video response to celebrities who took turns singing lines from “Imagine” at the start of widespread coronavirus shutdowns and social distancing back in March. Shapiro referred to “Imagine” as the “worst song ever written” and “evil” with a “horrible, immoral communist message.”

Ben Shapiro Criticizes Celebrities For Singing “Imagine” During Pandemic

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Majority of Americans now say it’s OK for NFL players to kneel during the national anthem

The majority of Americans now say it is appropriate for NFL players to protest by kneeling during the national anthem, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.

The poll, released Thursday, found that the May 25 killing of George Floyd by former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin and subsequent protests against police brutality have moved public opinion significantly on the matter.

In the wake of nationwide demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter and similar protests, a majority of Americans, 52 percent, now agree that it is “OK for NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest police killings of African Americans.” Now, 36 percent of respondents say it’s inappropriate to do so. (The remaining 12 percent answered “not sure.”)

Both male and female respondents said they were OK with the action at a margin of 52% to 37% among male respondents and 52% to 34% among female respondents.

The biggest spilt was along political party lines, with 77% of Democrats but only 20% of Republicans supporting the practice. Pertaining to race, “77% of blacks, 57% of Hispanics, and 47% of whites answered positively.”

A major shift

In 2016, when then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick jumpstarted the practice, only 28% of Americans considered his actions “appropriate,” Yahoo News noted. Two years later, in 2018, as many other NFL players began joining Kaepernick in kneeling, the number jumped to 35% but failed to garner majority support.

Earlier this month, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees came under fire for saying that while he is heartbroken over George Floyd’s death, he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America” by kneeling during the anthem.

After swift backlash from teammates and many inside the sports world, Brees issued several apologies.

President Trump, who has always been adamantly opposed to kneeling during the anthem, took to Twitter to say that Drew Brees “should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag.”

It remains to be seen if, with increased support, more NFL players will take part in kneeling in protest should games resume this fall.

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US Soccer reverses itself, repeals rule requiring players to stand during the national anthem

The U.S. Soccer Federation voted to reverse a rule that required players to stand during the national anthem. “U.S. Soccer affirms Black Lives Matter, and we support the fight against racial injustices,” a Wednesday statement said.

The U.S. Soccer Board of Directors voted to repeal Policy 604-1, which prohibited players from kneeling during the national anthem.

“The policy was put in place after Megan Rapinoe kneeled in solidarity with the peaceful protest inspired by Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality, and the systematic oppression of Black people and people of color in America,” the U.S. Soccer Federation said. “It has become clear that this policy was wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter.”

The U.S. Soccer Federation said it had “not done enough to listen — especially to our players — to understand and acknowledge the very real and meaningful experiences of Black and other minority communities in our country.”

“We apologize to our players — especially our Black players — staff, fans, and all who support eradicating racism,” the federation said. “Sports are a powerful platform for good, and we have not used our platform as effectively as we should have. We can do more on these specific issues and we will.

“It should be, and will be going forward, up to our players to determine how they can best use their platforms to fight all forms of racism, discrimination, and inequality,” the statement said. “We are here for our players and are ready to support them in elevating their efforts to achieve social justice.

“We cannot change the past, but we can make a difference in the future,” the statement concluded. “We are committed to this change effort, and we will be implementing supporting actions in the near future.”

Rapinoe kneeled during the national anthem at an international match in September 2016. The gesture was to show solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” before San Francisco 49ers preseason games before the 2016 NFL season.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick explained in August 2016 as his reason for the kneeling. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

“It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now. I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t,” Rapinoe said in September 2016. “Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it.”

Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league was “wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier” following the backlash over George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody.

“We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” Goodell said. “We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.

“I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no National Football League, and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality, and oppression of black players, coaches, fans, and staff,” Goodell added. “We are listening, I am listening, and I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward for a better and more united NFL family.”

Last week, New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees and his wife issued several apologies for making statements that condemned kneeling during the national anthem.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly castigated players who kneel during the national anthem. Most famously, President Trump said in 2017: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of a b***h off the field right now?”

“You know,” Trump added. “Some owner’s gonna do that. He’s gonna say that guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.”