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MLS fans boo soccer players for kneeling during national anthem

MLS fans boo soccer players for kneeling during national anthem

MLS players kneeling for the national anthem were met with “a smattering of boos” from fans during a game between FC Dallas and Nashville SC on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

After the game, Reggie Cannon, a Dallas defender, did not hold back his anger with the fans who decided to boo.

"I think it was disgusting. I think it was absolutely disgusting," Cannon said after the game. "You got fans booing you for people taking a stand for what they believe in. Millions of other people support this cause, and we discussed with every other team and the league what we’re going to do, and we’ve got fans booing us in our own stadium. How disgraceful is that? Honestly, for lack of a better word, it pissed me off... You can’t even have support from your own fans in your own stadium. It’s baffling to me."

MLS has allowed some fans to return to stadiums to watch games, based on local city ordinances. According to the AP, Frisco, TX allowed just over 5,000 fans to watch, but fewer than that showed up to the game.

Cannon said the boos hurt even more because it was the first time FC Dallas had the opportunity to play since March. They withdrew from MLS’s Return to Play tournament in Florida after 10 players tested positive for COVID-19.

"As a team, we try to give the best possible product on that field, and these last six months have been absolute hell for us," Cannon said. "Absolute hell, because we had to watch other people play soccer, and we’re just sitting at home, unfortunately, contracting COVID… And the opportunity presented itself to play tonight and unfortunately we’re mad-- and upset not to get the win-- but I was pissed. Everyone around me was pissed.

"Ryan Hollingshead, the first thing he said to me after we got up from the knee he said 'I'm sorry.' I’m sorry for our fans because we had someone chanting 'USA' when they don’t understand what keeling means, they don’t understand why we’re kneeling. They can’t see the reason, they just think we’re the ignorant ones and it’s incredibly frustrating. I’m sorry to have this tone but you have to call it for what it is.

“I even knew when we decided to kneel, I knew it was going to happen. That should tell you something, that I knew we were going to have some negative pushback from having a unified response over what’s going on. That’s the problem."

The National Anthem was not played in MLS’s Return to Play tournament, because there were no fans in the stands, however MLS says all players still took a knee in solidarity before kicking off each game. MLS has also stated they will continue to allow players to kneel during the anthem if they choose.

According to MLS, Cannon said the unified kneeling will continue from his team whether fans like it or not.

"It hurts me because I love our fans. I love this club and I want to see the support that the league has given us, that everyone has given us from our fans," Cannon said. "I love the people that came out tonight but as soon as I heard that boo I tried to play on and I knew what to expect. We’ll take it one day at a time and again we’re unified in this response and everyone stands together, black, white, orange, everyone stands together in this."

Players, coaches and even referees across nearly every sport across the globe have come together with some display against racial inequality, whether it be kneeling, observing a moment of silence, or wearing jerseys with special messaging.

Protests and displays of solidarity began in earnest after video captured police killing George Floyd while bringing him into custody.

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Mike Ditka to athletes who kneel for anthem: 'Get the hell out of the country'

Mike Ditka to athletes who kneel for anthem: 'Get the hell out of the country'

If it was up to him, Mike Ditka says no athletes would take a knee during the national anthem.

Ditka made the comments in an interview with TMZ, when asked what the policy on kneeling would be for his women’s football X-League.

“If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country,” Ditka said. “That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old fashioned, so I’m only going to say how I feel.

“I think there’s a way you protest, and I think there’s a way you don’t protest. You don’t protest against the flag, and you don’t protest against this country who’s given you the opportunity to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen.”

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In the video released by TMZ, Ditka did not offer suggestions on forms of protest he thought were acceptable. He did appear to soften his stance at the end of the interview however.

“I don’t want to hear all the crap. You want to try it? Try it. If not, that’s ok.”

Kneeling during the anthem has been a lightning rod topic since Colin Kaepernick began doing it 2016. He has not played in the NFL since that season. After filing a collusion lawsuit against the NFL, Kaepernick and the league agreed to a settlement out of court in 2019.

More recently, MLB teams have made headlines for holding black ribbons, or kneeling during the anthem in support of Black Lives Matters protests. The NBA has also released images of courts painted with “Black Lives Matter” for their upcoming return to play.

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Why Jimmy Butler wants to play without name or social justice message on jersey

Why Jimmy Butler wants to play without name or social justice message on jersey

Jimmy Butler has always been comfortable taking the road less traveled.

So his answer to whether he’ll wear one of the league-approved social justice messages on the back of his Miami Heat jersey shouldn’t surprise.

“I have decided not to. With that being said, I hope that my last name doesn’t go on there as well,” Butler said during his remote media availability session from the NBA’s restart on the Disney World campus in Florida. “I love and respect all the messages that the league did choose. But for me, I felt like with no message, with no name, it’s going back to like who I was. And if I wasn’t who I was today, I’m no different than anybody else of color.

“And I want that to be my message in the sense that just because I’m an NBA player, everybody has the same rights no matter what. That’s how I feel about my people of color.”

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Butler would need NBA approval for his unique idea. If he received it, it would symbolically place him back in the same status of anonymity as many African-Americans who have experienced police brutality, a crucial point in the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I’m hoping I get that opportunity though,” Butler said. “I really am.”

Butler admitted he considered sitting out the league’s 22-team restart to make a statement in that fashion, a strong admission from one of the league’s most competitive players. But ultimately, the former Bulls All-Star forward said just as much positive impact can occur by playing.

“Being away from your family is hard. What’s going on in the world right now it’s hard. But being here, it’s also hard. It’s not easy for anybody,” he said. “But we get the opportunity to talk amongst each other, learn about each other and everybody’s stories that’s here. And knowing that we’re all in this together, we’re all in this for the greater good. And I can tell you that everybody here is with the equality because it’s real. It needs to happen. There just has to be more action behind it.”

Butler called life inside the so-called bubble “easy,” a testament to the intricate and exhaustive planning undertaken by the NBA and National Basketball Players Association. The Heat have been one of the surprise stories of the NBA season, and Butler offered a colorful answer when asked how he kept sharp during the four-month hiatus since COVID-19 paused the league.

“The whole thing was just find a way to compete, whether it be at cards or at dominoes or a footrace, whatever it is. Keep your mind thinking, ‘I have to be the best. I have to win,’” Butler said. “And then as far as working out goes, if you have a gym at your house or a basket, yeah, go ahead. Work out. Shoot. But just ride the bike. Lift some weights. Do some yoga. Do some pilates, whatever that might be. And I think the Miami Heat did a great job of using Zoom to do pilates, yoga, lift together, talk. I think that was huge to getting back to where we are right now.”

Back in April, Butler even sent portable baskets to all his teammates. So, yes, Butler is ready. He always is.

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