WNBA players, who have been protesting racism all season by leaving the court during the national anthem, say they have decided not to continue their demonstration during the Olympics and will remain on the court during the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
Team captain Sue Bird, who is engaged to United States women’s soccer star — and woke icon — Megan Rapinoe, reportedly defended the decision to the media, claiming that the move was not “hypocritical” because she and her teammates were playing for Team USA, not individual cities.
“You are wearing USA jerseys, and it does change the conversation a little bit and what you’re representing,” Bird told The Associated Press, per the New York Post.
“With that, I don’t feel like a hypocrite in any way,” she added. “Everyone knows where we stand. I don’t think it contradicts anything since we’re actually doing the work.”
“Throughout the WBNA season, the four-time Olympic gold medalist and her teammates have remained in the locker room during ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,'” the Post noted.
The WNBA has “led the way” on social justice protests in professional basketball, according to a report last year from The Washington Post. Before NBA players walked off the court over racial injustice and emblazoned their jerseys with woke slogans, the WNBA was putting social justice front and center in the league, kneeling in protest, wearing custom shirts and sweatsuits, and, last year, introduced a “WNBA Social Justice Council” to organize players’ anti-racist efforts.
In Tokyo, though, Bird says fans should expect a more muted approach. In an exhibition game ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, players locked arms during the national anthem — an example of a more “relaxed” protest, per the Post.
“We all want our country to be a better place, and that’s what this is about,” Bird said. “That’s an athlete’s mentality, and there’s really no better people to do that than athletes. What do we do every single day? What do we talk about? Getting better.”
While Bird may be responding to the pressure of being on the international stage, it’s no secret that woke protests haven’t been welcome at the Tokyo Olympics — and that Americans aren’t as enthusiastic about the 2020 summer games in part, at least, because of woke athletes.
As The Daily Wire reported last week, “[m]ore than 60% of Americans were unable to express excitement or interest in the summer games, and at least 45% of Americans confirmed they are NOT looking forward to the games in any capacity.” Excitement was even lower among Republicans.
Speculation about a ratings free-fall was confirmed Sunday. “Just 16.7 million Americans tuned in to NBC’s broadcast of the ceremony, the smallest U.S. television audience to watch the event in the past 33 years, according to preliminary data from Comcast-owned NBCUniversal,” The Daily Wire reported.
Bird may also be learning from Rapinoe’s experience. After the U.S. women’s soccer team posted an excruciating loss to Sweden in the first game of the Tokyo Olympics, viewers took to social media to blast Rapinoe and her teammates for focusing more intently on scoring woke points than scoring goals.