The woke movement of defiance that former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started nearly five years ago has now evolved, at least in one aspect involving one team and one owner.
Kaepernick, back in 2016, made it fashionable among pro athletes to kneel for the National Anthem as a sign of protest against police brutality. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said at the time, according to NFL.com. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
The protests spread to other sports. In 2020, after the death of George Floyd, all of the major professional sports leagues demonstrated in some way their support for the Black Lives Matter movement by allowing kneeling and other forms of protest.
But Mark Cuban, tech industry magnate and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, has found a way to eliminate the controversy.
He reportedly directed the Mavericks’ staff to simply quit playing the national anthem.
The Athletic, a sports website, appeared to be the first to report Cuban’s decision. Cuban confirmed to the outlet that he had ended the pregame ceremony, but did not comment further. The team also did not speak about it, and Mavericks officials noted that Cuban did not explain the move internally either.
Cuban has been a frequent critic of former President Donald Trump, to the point that last year he floated the idea of running for president against him, as well as being a very public advocate for the BLM protests. He also has taken on conservative critics such s GOP Sen. Ted Cruz and former NFL star Herschel Walker on this issue.
Last June the “Shark Tank” host telegraphed where he might end up on this issue.
In an interview with ESPN, Cuban encouraged NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to rescind a 1981 league rule that requires players, coaches and trainers to “stand and line up in a dignified posture along the foul lines” when the anthem is played. Cuban said he did not see taking a knee or raising a fist as disrespectful to the flag, the anthem or the country.
“I think this is more a reflection of our players’ commitment to this country,” he said at the time. “And the fact that it’s so important to them that they’re willing to say what’s in their heart and do what they think is right.”
“Hopefully we’ll re-adapt and hopefully we’ll allow players to do what’s in their heart, whether it’s holding an arm up in the air, whether it’s taking a knee,” he added.
In a subsequent interview with NBA-TV, Cuban reiterated that by discussing the Pledge of Allegiance.
“We all said that pledge growing up in the United States,” Cuban said last June. “And going back to it, liberty and justice for all. That’s what this flag is supposed to be for all of us. And so when people kneel, when people stand up and protest, it’s specifically what we pledged to do our entire lives at school.”
“When people chant ‘no justice, no peace,’ to me that’s what they mean,” the billionaire added. “That’s what I hear. And when people kneel, they’re not turning away from the flag, they’re towards the flag and pushing for justice for all.”
The playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” dates back to the Civil War. It became a regular feature of pregame activities since the 1918 World Series.
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