When Megan Rapinoe took a knee in support of Colin Kaepernick’s quest to further America’s conversations about racial oppression, it created buzz. Attention from the political sphere focused on the outspoken ‘Pinoe as those generally on the right criticized her, going so far as demanding she be suspended, to those generally on the left supporting the action.
The Seattle Reign are not a marketing and merchandising behemoth. They cannot afford to lose fans, but their statement is not concerned with that. Their official team release about Rapinoe’s decision is only slightly couched. It empowers Megan and her teammates to make the choice that best fits their feelings about the nation. The Reign also recognize that you may be offended by their player’s actions, but they will not let that offense force a change in behavior.
Prior to the start of Sunday’s match against the Chicago Red Stars, Reign FC’s Megan Rapinoe elected to kneel during the playing of the national anthem.
We recognize Megan’s decision was offensive to some and a source of inspiration to others.
We empathize with those offended, as we understand that the playing of the national anthem is one of our nation’s most revered public celebrations, honoring the sacrifices that have been made – and continue to be made – by those serving in our armed forces.
That start by the Reign says they are listening to complaints.
At the same time, we see many inspired by Megan’s decision, as the courage she exhibited by acting on her beliefs empowers others to take action as well.
We will continue to encourage all Reign FC players to participate in the pre-match ceremony, which honors those who have served and made sacrifices on our behalf.
We will also continue to allow players to participate in the pre-match ceremony in a manner consistent with their personal beliefs, reflecting our respect for the rights earned and defended by those fighting for our nation.
And we will continue to support Megan in her efforts to make a positive impact on our country, encouraging her to do so in a way that provokes needed conversation about serious issues, in a manner consistent with the values of our organization.
That finish means that they will not be acting on the complaints. The Reign are empowering their players to act, or in Rapinoe’s case to continue acting.
This is unlike the U.S. Hockey National Team coach. John Tortorella says that he will bench any player that does not stand during the National Anthem.
Instead the Reign are standing in support of their U.S. National Team player. They are not asking her to change her political or social views for marketing reasons.
In the middle of a tight playoff race (they play the Washington Spirit Wednesday night at 4 PM PT), Seattle is not avoiding the topic of race and justice. They are encouraging that conversation.