After a controversial decision by Spirit owner Bill Lynch that had the National Anthem played before the athletes came onto the field this past Wednesday, citing Megan Rapinoe’s “hijacking” of the game’s focus and potential disrespect toward the flag, the players of the Washington Spirit have released a statement today.
Addressing the NWSL community, the statement expresses their concern over the negative light Lynch’s action has brought on both the team and the league and cites the diverse backgrounds and beliefs of the people who make up the Spirit organization, saying:
“We respect our owner’s freedom to share his views and we understand his intentions. But as a team we don’t necessarily agree with those opinions or the actions taken on Wednesday evening.”
The statement continues: “We believe in freedom of speech and expression as long as it’s respectfully demonstrated, even when we don’t agree on every issue.”
In short, the players of the Washington Spirit have done exactly what their owner should have, acknowledge both that they do not necessarily support the actions of Rapinoe or, in this case, Lynch, but that they respectfully recognize an individual’s constitutional right to the expression of free speech.
The letter goes on to express that they regret their “historic accomplishment for the club” has been cast negatively in light of the owner’s action, but insists that their goal remains the same: to win the 2016 NWSL championship. Finally, they express their gratitude for the support of their fans and the Spirit Squadron and call for mutual respect and cooperation as they seek to secure home field advantage this weekend in the playoffs.
Altogether, the statement is well-written and very politic, and exactly what should have been seen from their owner. Hopefully, Bill Lynch will take inspiration from his group of talented, conscientious, and respectful players in the future.