Spirit thwarts an­them protest by Rapi­noe

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS -

The Wash­ing­ton Spirit pre­vented Seat­tle Reign mid­fielder Me­gan Rapi­noe from kneel­ing dur­ing the na­tional an­them by al­ter­ing its pregame cer­e­monies rather than “sub­ject our fans and friends to the dis­re­spect we feel such an act would rep­re­sent.” The Na­tional Women’s Soc­cer League team moved up the an­them, play­ing it while the teams were off the field at the Mary­land Soc­cerPlex in Boyds. “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,” the Spirit said in a state­ment. “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.” On Sun­day be­fore the Reign’s game in Chicago, Rapi­noe knelt dur­ing the na­tional an­them “in a lit­tle nod” to Colin Kaeper­nick — the San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back whose re­fusal to stand for the an­them to protest racial in­jus­tice and mi­nor­ity op­pres­sion came to pub­lic no­tice when he re­mained seated on the bench be­fore a pre­sea­son game. After kneel­ing Sun­day, Rapi­noe said: “I think it’s ac­tu­ally pretty dis­gust­ing the way [Kaeper­nick] was treated and the way that a lot of the me­dia has cov­ered it and made it about some­thing that it ab­so­lutely isn’t. We need to have a more thought­ful, two-sided con­ver­sa­tion about racial is­sues in this coun­try. ... Be­ing a gay Amer­i­can, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it pro­tect all of your lib­er­ties.” Rapi­noe, 31, helped the United States win the World Cup last year and played in the Rio Olympics. The Spirit won, 2-1, Wed­nes­day night, clinch­ing home field for their first 2016 play­off match.

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