Spirit thwarts anthem protest by Rapinoe
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.