My great-uncle died during the Korean War. He was carrying bodies of the dead and wounded across a river and his boat was ambushed. His remains have never been found.
My grandfather went over to Korea to help with breaking down and bringing everyone home.
My uncle met my aunt because they were both Army.
My brother and my cousin each did two tours in Iraq.
Why do I mention this, why do I think it’s important that you know this before you continue reading? Because this is the family I come from. A family that has bled and died for this country, for that flag, and for our rights.
I had a conversation about Colin Kaepernick and his feelings about his protesting with my brother, two-time Iraqi War Veteran and former Sergeant in the US Army. His answer was simple: he finds it disrespectful to the flag, but that it is also his right to do it.
You don’t have to like the way Kaepernick is protesting, you don’t have to like the fact that he is protesting, you don’t have to agree to a damn thing that he does, but you have no right to strip him of that right to protest.
Megan Rapinoe chose to kneel in solidarity with Kaepernick at last week’s game against Chicago and that is her right. She believes that what Kaepernick is doing is important and that this topic needs to be talked about. I agree.
Her team, the Seattle Reign, agreed as well. They issued a statement, one that was simple but effective. They did not necessarily agree with her stance or choice, but they agreed with her being able to do it. That makes one team that got it right.
The Washington Spirit, however, got it very wrong tonight.
The Spirit released a statement, about 15 minutes or less before kickoff, stating that they were playing the National Anthem early. While the players were still in their locker rooms. They stated that they would not allow Rapinoe to “hijack” this tradition. That they would not subject their fans to such a disrespectful act. That the organization is veteran-owned and thus it was unacceptable to play the National Anthem when there was a chance players might protest, especially on such an important night for their franchise.
— Backline Soccer (@backlinesoccer) September 7, 2016
Here is my problem with such a statement.
- Could you be more selfish regarding it an important night for your franchise that you would take away from issues of this country? I’m betting not.
- Rapinoe did not hijack anything. She didn’t put a gun to anyone’s head, she didn’t hold you against your will, all she was going to do was kneel.
- Instead of subjecting your fans to someone harmlessly expressing protest, you subjected them to what you feel is appropriate and deem acceptable behavior. It’s their choice to be offended or not, not yours to decide for them.
- I have veterans in my life, as I stated above, while they do not always agree with someone protesting in such a way, they would never dream of doing something like this.
What you did here, you denied someone their rights because it didn’t match your feelings or views. You did the most un-American, unpatriotic, unacceptable thing. You don’t have to agree with me, but my brother? The two-time Iraqi War Vet and former Sergeant in the US Army, one of those veterans you were trying to ‘protect?’ He agrees with me.
What you did was wrong, Bill Lynch, plain wrong.
I love this team, I love this game, and I love my country. I have been let down and disappointed by all three many times, but this, this moment, this hurts. I cannot find the proper words to describe the anger and hurt and disbelief that this actually happened. I am beyond disappointed, disgusted, and appalled at this action.
These players, this city, this team, the fans, and this league deserve better than that. You have no idea how much that hurts to say. This has been one of the best organizations in women’s soccer in America. They have been around since the WUSA and have had such a great reputation and professionalism about them. The fact that this happened with this team, it’s crushing, truly crushing.
What’s done is done. You just tainted your own ‘important night’ and did the thing you were most hoping to prevent. You took the focus off of the game and put it on your mission, now you made sure that this gets talked about.
No one will remember this night for the Spirit securing their first-ever home semifinal, they will remember it for the fact that you denied this woman the right to express her freedom of speech and played the National Anthem early.