March 10, 2017

U.S. Soccer Takes a Stand

Unlike the NFL, its athletes will stand for the national anthem.

Admittedly, it’s a bit Johnny-come-lately, but an American sports authority has finally sided with the American flag regarding expectations for its athletes’ behavior. Earlier this week, the U.S. Soccer Federation released a new policy directive which states, “All persons representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented.” The new policy doesn’t specify what punishment may result from an athlete’s failure to comply, but U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said there would indeed be consequences should the policy be violated.

Perhaps the decision is somewhat surprising coming in a sport often considered to be more popular internationally or with those on the Left, but it may have to do with representing our nation to the world. Our own national sports don’t have that responsibility — at least not in the same way.

Last fall, the practice of disrespecting the flag begun by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick spread to U.S. Soccer when Women’s National Team player Megan Rapinoe chose to take a knee during the national anthem before a match. While nothing was done at the time to address her behavior, it appears that U.S. Soccer has decided it will no longer tolerate the disrespectful gesture: “We have an expectation that our players and coaches will stand and honor the flag while the national anthem is played.”

Former U.S. national player and current FOX Sports analyst Alexi Lalas expressed his support for the decision stating, “U.S. Soccer has the right to do this. The question is, is it the right thing to do? And I say 100%. It is a privilege, it is an honor, it is a choice to represent your country, and it comes with responsibilities and expectations. … I look at it as a unique moment, when we come together, we honor and we celebrate being citizens of the greatest country in the world, and I think it is a tradition that should be preserved.”

ESPN’s Chris Jones feels differently, declaring of the new U.S. Soccer policy, “It isn’t just anti-American. It’s anti-soccer.” Of course, ESPN’s politicization of sports is nothing new, and it’s one of the reasons the sports giant is hemorrhaging subscribers.

We’re waiting to see if any other American sports leagues will be patriotic enough to take the same stand as U.S. Soccer. And on a side note, Kaepernick has decided to cease his kneeling protests. Could it be that he’s come to appreciate this land of opportunity and just how offensive his little anti-American charade was to most of its people? Or could it simply be that he’s now a free agent and is looking for work?

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