Large Crowd Turns Out For Women’s Basketball Game Following Kneeling Controversy

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) --  After several players on the University of Arkansas Razorback women's basketball team took a knee during the national anthem at their exhibition game, some fans threatened to pull their support.

In response to the backlash, Edwin Strickland and his wife started a GoFund Me account to buy thousands of tickets for the team's Nov. 13 game. The couple said they wanted to make sure the players got support for standing up for what they believed in.

"The whole goal in the beginning was never for them to be disrespectful to the military or police or anybody, they just wanted to bring awareness that there were injustices taking place in our country," Strickland said. "We just wanted to see how many people we could get to go to the game. Before you knew it we raised more than $6,400."

Ruthellen Mock, who was at the game, said she was surprised to see such a large turnout.

"I enjoyed it, it was fun having a crowd," she said. "But I don't like the fact that the politics had to bring in the fans."

The players have not knelt during the national anthem since the Nov. 3 exhibition game. They announced Nov. 9, ahead of their game on Veterans Day, they would no longer kneel during any games. Instead, the women announced they will be starting a campaign called "Project Unify," which works to build trust between the community and law enforcement.

Their announcement came after a state senator called for a hold to be put on the U of A budget until his concerns about the players' choice to kneel were addressed.

After the players knelt, Coach Jimmy Dykes, Athletic Director Jeff Long and U of A Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz all released statements saying they support the players' First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.

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