The Washington Spirit outmaneuvered Megan Rapinoe’s plan to kneel during the national anthem by playing the song before the players took the field Wednesday night.
“In light of Seattle Reign and U.S. Women’s National Team member Megan Rapinoe’s public declaration that she intended to ‘take a knee’ during the United States’ National Anthem tonight,” the team announced in a statement, “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.”
Rapinoe, a World Cup winner and Olympic gold medalist, took a knee during “The Star Spangled Banner” Sunday night in a game against the Chicago Red Stars. She said her gesture came in tribute to Colin Kaepernick sitting and kneeling during the song in protest of racism and the police in two preseason games. She vowed to continue not standing for the song.
As a “veteran owned” franchise, the team said it refused to allow Rapinoe “hijacking our organization’s event to draw attention to what is ultimately a personal — albeit worthy — cause.”
Air Force veteran Bill Lynch owns the Spirit.
“To willingly allow anyone to hijack this tradition that means so much to millions of Americans and so many of our own fans for any cause would effectively be just as disrespectful as doing it ourselves,” the team maintained. The statement noted that sports figures can bring attention to causes “without insulting our military and our fans.”
The first-place Spirit improved to 12-3-3 with a 2-1 win over the Reign Wednesday evening.