Should players kneel or not during the national anthem?
That question has been at the forefront of the NWSL Challenge Cup, which last weekend marked the return of professional sports to America during the COVID-19 pandemic. Powerful images of players taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have flooded social media, as societal issues manifest in Utah.
Crystal Dunn, a star player for the North Carolina Courage and US women’s national team, addressed that very topic during a recent episode of The Call Up. North Carolina grabbed a 2-1 win over the Portland Thorns in the tournament’s opener, and the teams agreed beforehand to kneel before kickoff.
“This really comes down to what you truly believe and how you feel,” Dunn said. “I know it’s an uncomfortable situation for many people, but I think sometimes you have to do the uncomfortable things in order to make the biggest impact.”
The conversation has shifted into whether or not the national anthem should be played whatsoever, a complicated issue that Dunn voiced her opinion on. How the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and two-time NWSL Cup champion sees it, it’s easy to get rid of the anthem because it’s causing debate. But she feels the situation is more complicated.
“To be honest, I want the national anthem played,” Dunn said. “I think there’s only conversations about it not being played because of the protests, and I think if no one protested and no one was kneeling, this would never be a conversation.”
NWSL changed their policy after the first matchday, allowing players to stay in the locker room during the anthem.
For more from Dunn, check out the entire clip above and the entire Call Up episode here.