While the USWNT players’ recent decision to refrain from singing the national anthem made headlines, such forms of protest aren’t new in sports. Athletes have long used their platforms to address social issues, whether by kneeling, raising a fist, or donning symbolic attire. Here are 15 impactful instances when sports stars protested the national anthem and sent ripples worldwide.
1. Colin Kaepernick Stands Against Racial Injustice. Event: NFL games, 2016
In a powerful stand against racial inequality and police violence, Kaepernick chose to kneel during the anthem, sparking a movement that influenced athletes across various sports.
2. Megan Rapinoe: Solidarity on the Soccer Field. Event: U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Matches, 2016
Echoing Kaepernick’s sentiments, Rapinoe took a knee to shed light on racial injustice, amplifying the conversation in the soccer community.
3. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s Flag Controversy. Event: NBA Games, 1996
Deeming the flag as a symbol of oppression, Abdul-Rauf’s decision not to stand during the anthem stirred controversies and ignited essential conversations about freedom and representation.
4. Miami Heat’s Hooded Tribute for Trayvon Martin. Event: NBA Game, 2012
In a silent yet powerful protest, the team wore hoodies and bowed their heads during the anthem, reflecting on the tragic death of Trayvon Martin and the larger implications of racial profiling.
5. Olympians Smith and Carlos’ Black Power Salute. Event: Olympic Games in Mexico City, 1968
Their iconic raised black-gloved fists during the anthem sent a global message about racial inequality and remains one of the most potent sports protests in history.
6. Bruce Maxwell Breaks MLB Silence. Event: MLB game, 2017
As the first MLB player to take a knee during the anthem, Maxwell’s protest was a significant step for the baseball community, resonating with Kaepernick’s message.
7. Women’s Soccer Unites: Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City. Event: National Women’s Soccer League match, 2016
Players knelt during the anthem, uniting in their stance against racial injustice and its impact on society.
8. Bundesliga’s Hertha BSC Team’s Collective Stand. Event: Bundesliga match, 2017
In an act of global solidarity, the entire soccer team took a knee, aligning with American athletes protesting racial injustice.
9. LA Sparks Shine Light from the Locker Room. Event: WNBA Finals, 2017
Instead of standing on the court, the team made their statement from the locker room during the anthem, emphasizing the urgency of addressing racial injustice.
10. Marshawn Lynch: Sitting Down to Stand Up. Event: NFL games, 2017
Lynch’s choice to sit during the anthem underscored the pressing issues of racial injustice.
11. Eric Reid Joins the Anthem Protest Movement. Event: NFL games, 2016
Standing (or kneeling) alongside Kaepernick, Reid used his platform to further the dialogue on racial inequality, continuing even when Kaepernick wasn’t on the field.
12. Brandon Marshall Kneels for Justice. Event: NFL games, 2016
Marshall joined the growing list of NFL players taking a knee, echoing the call for action against racial disparities.
13. WNBA Players Dress for a Message. Event: Multiple games, 2016
Athletes from various teams wore black warm-up shirts, directing attention towards the shootings by and of police officers and the need for change.
14. Chris Jackson’s Early Anthem Protest. Event: NCAA basketball games, 1990
Before gaining fame in the NBA as Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Jackson refused to partake in the anthem as a college player, making an early statement against racial injustice.
15. Società Sportiva Lazio’s “No To Racism” Stand. Event: Serie A match, 2020
Players donned shirts proclaiming “No To Racism,” expressing their solidarity and commitment to fighting racial injustice globally.
Bringing Attention to Social Issues
Through their acts of protest, these athletes not only brought attention to pivotal social issues but also paved the way for future generations to use their platforms for change.
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The post From Fist Raises to Kneeling: 15 Times Athletes Defied the National Anthem, Silently Shouting for Justice first appeared on Mama Say What?!
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