Brittney Griner: National anthem has no place in WNBA, sports

Jason Owens

Brittney Griner didn’t take the floor for the national anthem during the Phoenix Mercury’s debut in the WNBA bubble on Saturday.

Don’t expect her to do so moving forward.

The Mercury center and 2019 league MVP runner-up told reporters on a video call Monday that the WNBA should stop playing the anthem this season.

“I honestly feel we should not play the national anthem during our season,” Griner said, per The Arizona Republic. "I think we should take that much of a stand.”

Players opted out of anthem on Saturday

No players took the floor for the anthem prior to the Mercury’s season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday. That protest arrived as the WNBA focused its opening weekend on calling for justice for Breonna Taylorthe 26-year-old Black woman who was shot and killed by police in Louisville on March 13.

Griner plans to extend her protest throughout the season.

“I’m going to protest regardless,” she said. “I'm not going to be out there for the national anthem. If the league continues to want to play it, that's fine. It will be all season long, I'll not be out there. I feel like more are going to probably do the same thing. I can only speak for myself.”

Brittney Griner doesn't plan to be on the floor this season when the anthem is played. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Brittney Griner doesn't plan to be on the floor this season when the anthem is played. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Griner: No disrespect to military

Griner, like so many players who have protested before her, made clear that her protest doesn’t have anything to do with the military.

“I don't mean that in any disrespect to our country,” Griner continued. “My dad was in Vietnam and a law officer for 30 years. I wanted to be a cop before basketball. I do have pride for my country.”

She believes that the anthem doesn’t represent Black Americans.

“I personally don't think it belongs in sports. ... Black people didn't have rights at that point,” Griner said of the creation of the Star-Spangled Banner. “It's hard disrespecting a song that didn't even represent all Americans when it was first made.”

Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to Star-Spangled Banner in 1814, decades before the Civl War and emancipation of American slaves. It was designated the U.S. national anthem in 1931 amid the throes of the Jim Crow era.

Griner: Why have anthem in sports to begin with?

Like others, Griner also argued that the anthem is out of place at sporting events regardless. The anthem isn’t played before other public entertainment gatherings like movies, concerts and plays.

“It's not played at Walmart. It's not played when you go to Six Flags. Why is it played before sporting events?”

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