American women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe knelt during the U.S. national anthem at a Sunday match, calling it a deliberate move to support NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who stoked controversy by flouting the tradition of standing during the song.
"It was very intentional," Rapinoe told American Soccer Now following a match in Illinois between the Chicago Red Stars and her own team, the Seattle Reign.
"It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he's standing for right now."
Kaepernick, a San Francisco 49er quarterback, on Thursday carried on with his protest against racial injustice and police brutality before his team's Thursday game against the San Diego Chargers, by refusing to stand during The Star Spangles Banner.
A week earlier the athlete raised the ire of many fans when he remained seated through the anthem before his team's game against the Green Bay Packers, as Ben Rosen reported for The Christian Science Monitor:
Ever since Mr. Kaepernick began to commit this taboo form of protest [on Aug. 26], some athletes, fans, and columnists have said the 28-year-old is unpatriotic. But Kaepernick's protest may show a different type of patriotism, one that has become more popular among Millennials than many that came before them: loving your country enough to question it.
Many Americans saw his gesture as a sign of disrespect to the flag and criticism was widespread, but Kaepernick has also been supported by some fellow players -- and now by Rapinoe.
"I think it's actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn't," Rapinoe said.
"Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties," she added.
Rapinoe said that while her gesture was "something small," she planned to continue doing it to "spark some meaningful conversation."
Kaepernick found a bit of support last week in a fellow teammate, as the Monitor reported on Friday:
It happened again Thursday, at the opening of the 49ers’ game against the San Diego Chargers, only this time, Mr. Kaepernick kneeled instead of sitting, and he was joined in silent protest by teammate Eric Reid. Further north, in Oakland, Seattle Seahawks’ Jeremy Lane offered solidarity by sitting on the bench during the national anthem....
Some who support the spirit of the protest, however, tire of words and would like to see more action to address the social challenges being highlighted. In tacit acknowledgment of this sentiment, Kaepernick said that while he plans to continue his protests as the regular season rumbles into gear, he also intends to donate $1 million 'to different organizations to help these communities and help these people.'