FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — Six members of the Arkansas Razorback Women’s Basketball team took a knee during the National Anthem on Thursday (Nov. 3) at the team’s exhibition game against Oklahoma Baptist.
The members of the team join a large group of athletes who have taken a knee as protest over racial inequality in America.
University of Arkansas’ Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics, Jeff Long, released the following statement:
“In this country, we value everyone’s right to voice their opinions and views. University campuses are places of learning and thus places where differences of opinion and varying perspectives are recognized. We respect the rights of our student-athletes and all individuals to express themselves on important issues in our nation.
We will continue to encourage our student-athletes to engage in constructive conversations with their peers, coaches, support staff and administrators to raise awareness of varying backgrounds and life experiences and to develop understanding among conflicting points of view.
We will also continue to support our student-athletes in all areas of their education, community engagement, career and personal development.”
He also added:
“As I expressed in my statement last night, I support our student-athletes’ First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression. I believe in standing for the National Anthem and will continue to stand as a sign of respect for our military, law enforcement and those who serve our country.”
“It is important to note that members of the women’s basketball team voiced, in their own words, that their demonstration was not directed at those who have served our nation in the military. The intent of their demonstration was to bring awareness to social injustice.”
University of Arkansas Chancellor, Joseph Steinmetz, released the following statement:
“There is no greater freedom in America than the freedom of speech and so many brave Americans have sacrificed defending that very premise. The intention of our student athletes was not to denigrate the flag, to show disrespect to our veterans or to challenge our freedoms, but rather to simply raise awareness of an important issue of concern in our communities. While I encourage people to stand during the playing of the national anthem, as I choose to do, I will respect others who exercise free speech guaranteed to them by our Constitution. Our campus will continue to engage in productive and necessary dialogue until every member of our community feels respected and safe.”
Arkansas politicians have taken to social media to voice their opinions on this matter.
But, more support has been shown for the team after a Go Fund Me page was set up to raise money to purchase 1,000 tickets to the Razorback’s home game on Sunday (Nov. 13). The creator of the page says he will give out the tickets in an effort to fill up the stands to show the team their support.