Oregon soccer takes a knee
The ‘take a knee’ movement is spreading, and it has not been limited to just the NFL.
Some of Oregon soccer has joined in the protests that have been occurring on a national and international scale, as several players knelt during the national anthem in recent games at Papé Field.
“Taking the knee before the game means just to raise awareness for the social injustices and inequalities that are happening in our nation,” defender Jazmin Jackmon said after the Ducks’ 1-0 loss to Washington on Oct. 8. “That’s what my teammates and I knelt for, and we’re really hoping to raise awareness for that and to force people to really have those conversations because I think as a nation, if we learn how to have those tough conversations that’s where we’ll grow, as well as our team.”
Anthem protests are not something new to women’s soccer. U.S. women’s national team member and Seattle Reign FC midfielder Megan Rapinoe took a knee after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the movement by taking a knee during the national anthem at NFL games.
The U.S. Soccer Federation does not allow its athletes to take a knee during anthems, but at the University of Oregon, student-athletes can kneel because of the school’s status as a public institution.
“I’m absolutely supportive of our players’ freedom to be able to express themselves,” Oregon soccer head coach Kat Mertz said.
Jackmon, along with Halla Hinriksdottir, Emma Eddy, Mia Palmer, Eden Hardy, Caitlyn Wong and Sofia Chambers, took a knee ahead of the Ducks’ game against Arizona State. Hinriksdottir, Eddy, Jackmon, Hardy and Wong all took a knee prior to kickoff of their game against Washington the week before. Hinriksdottir, Wong and Chambers are three of Oregon’s four captains.
Oregon players were not the only ones kneeling. In the Ducks’ game at UCLA on Sept. 28, a plethora of Bruins took a knee during the anthem. When the Ducks hosted Washington, several Huskies took a knee as well as their head coach, Lesle Gallimore, who raised her left fist into the air.
Several Arizona State players knelt as well, but Oregon players did not coordinate with the opponents about participating in the protests.
“What we’re trying to exemplify is not necessarily that kneeling is right and standing is wrong,” Wong said. “People have a voice and we want to encourage young girls to use their voice — to get educated about the issue, to get educated about all sorts of issues.”
The team talked about the protests prior to participating in the protests, which formed natural divide, but it helped them understand the conflicting sides of the controversial protest.
Mertz said that she stressed the importance of allowing the players to discuss the protests in a “judge-free zone.”
“Players are on both sides of it, and the biggest thing that I can take away from it is our team respects everyone’s decision to express themselves,” Mertz said. “So I’m proud of their effort, and I’m really just proud of their response.”
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow
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