COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina guard Zia Cooke said it was important for people not to forget the issues of social injustice and racial inequality that arose earlier this year.
That’s why she and nine of her teammates chose to sit in their chairs on the sideline while the national anthem was played before the Gamecocks’ 119-38 victory over Charleston on Wednesday.
The team discussed the action months ago while protests went on throughout the country to protest the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who were Black.
“We just wanted everyone to know we haven’t forgotten about what’s going on,” Cooke said. “Of course, this is a basketball game, but we wanted to use our platform.”
Elysa Wesolek was the only player who stood. Coach Dawn Staley and her staff also stood as “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played.
The team issued a statement on Twitter saying the players’ actions were intended “to shine a light on the need for racial equality, social justice and to end systemic racism in the United States.”
Staley was proud that her players took a stand.
“They’re the ones are using their voices and their platform,” she said.
Staley said she heard a boo or two from fans and got messages on social media about supporters who pledged not to return.
“As coaches, we were going to support them no matter what they wanted to do, but I’m glad they put themselves in a position of utilizing their voices,” Staley said.
The team statement said it would support all players, whether they chose to stand or sit.
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