The Washington Spirit thwarted Seattle Reign’s Megan Rapinoe from taking a knee during the national anthem again by moving up the pre-game ceremonies rather than "subject our fans and friends to the disrespect we feel such an act would represent."
Players were caught off guard by the National Women's Soccer League team's intentional decision to play "The Star-Spangled Banner" earlier than usual at the Maryland SoccerPlex thus denying Rapinoe another chance to continue her anthem protest by kneeling during the song.
But in doing so, the Spirit's tactical move also denied the other players from honoring the flag before their 7 pm match.
In a statement, the Spirit, which plays in Boyds, Maryland, went on to call Rapinoe’s protest a “method of hijacking our organization’s event to draw attention to what is ultimately a personal — albeit worthy cause."
Washington Spirit's statement on decision to play anthem before #NWSL players come out: pic.twitter.com/G0llKp0uMl— Caitlin Murray (@caitlinmurr) September 7, 2016
Rapinoe told the Washington Post that the Spirit’s statement was in poor taste, especially considering the language used and the timing — just a few days before the 15th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
The Spirit countered by saying team owner Bill Lynch is a veteran who has lost friends in overseas conflicts, as had his close friends.
"The tradition of honoring our military and our patriotism before our games is very important to us," the statement said. "We strongly feel that there are better ways to begin a conversation about a cause than tarnishing a tradition that is so important to so many."
This is sure to throw fuel on a firestorm issue that has many pros and cons on each side.
Oh yeah. The Spirit went on to win, 2-1.