I wasn’t expecting to write about women’s basketball tonight, and even after some of the women kneeled during the national anthem, I still wasn’t sure it was worth writing about since these types of demonstrations are happening all over the country, but when the coach and athletic director have to issue statements about it, seems like we should acknowledge it.
If you stayed off the Internet Thursday night (and if you did, GOOD FOR YOU!) you might not have heard that during the national anthem immediately before the women’s basketball exhibition game against Oklahoma Baptist, some of the players on the Arkansas women’s basketball team kneeled. Here’s the video:
Select members of the Razorback women's basketball kneeled during the national anthem ahead of tonight's exhibition game pic.twitter.com/lYQZFD36RX— Razorback Nation (@RazNation) November 4, 2016
This has, of course, become a popular form of protest among athletes over the last few months, beginning with Colin Kaepernick in the NFL.
Arkansas fans were largely disgusted and let the voices/typing skills be heard on social media and message boards. So many promised not to support the program going forward you’d think the women’s team had Lady Vols type of support to begin with. The anger was so heated that women’s coach Jimmy Dykes was asked about it after the game and athletic director Jeff Long issued a statement. Both supported the actions of the women on the team.
Jimmy Dykes: We are extremely proud of our young ladies. They have strong, well educated opinions, based on their real life experiences.— Razorback Nation (@RazNation) November 4, 2016
JD: I'm very proud of them. I have their back, because we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.— Razorback Nation (@RazNation) November 4, 2016
JD: They came together for a cause & had different stances, but end of the day, they're a Razorback. Started listening & can't get enough.— Razorback Nation (@RazNation) November 4, 2016
JD: Worried it would take away but just have to trust that people see their hearts— Razorback Nation (@RazNation) November 4, 2016
JD: A lot of people that are very disappointed in me right now, but my players arent.— Razorback Nation (@RazNation) November 4, 2016
“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.”
Interestingly (at least to me) it’s a much different response than Jonathan Williams received two years ago when he made the “hand up, don’t shoot” motion after scoring a touchdown in Missouri. Bret Bielema was not as supportive of Williams’ display and he never did it again.
The women’s team did win the game Thursday night, 79-32 over Oklahoma Baptist.