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WNBA Player Brittney Griner Speaks on National Anthem Stance

WNBA Player Brittney Griner Speaks on National Anthem Stance

  Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner made her return to the court after her detention in Russia this year and said hearing the national anthem felt different than before. Griner noted that the lyrics of the national anthem can be problematic for a country still trying to address its racist past, so she proposed that the WNBA no longer play it before games. Why Griner Changed Her Mind On Friday night before her team's preseason game in Phoenix, Phoenix Mercury star Courtney McCrary stood for the national anthem - marking the first time she had done so since being detained in Russia for almost one year. Before being freed she had made kneeling an integral part of her protest against police brutality and systemic racism in America. Her arrest in Russia for possession of cannabis oil cartridges caused international uproar and led to her release via prisoner exchange with Viktor Bout, arms dealer from Russia. Her ordeal caused widespread moral outrage and forced Americans to reconsider their views on topics ranging from U.S. citizens being detained abroad to how WNBA players must play abroad to supplement their incomes. Griner quickly rose to become one of the most visible athletes worldwide - yet she also became an object of hostility for some fans and members of the media who likened her decision to kneel for the national anthem to that of Colin Kaepernick's decision not to stand during its playing. As she returned to the court for All-Star weekend, it was evident that Griner has undergone an evident transformation; she now expresses appreciation for her country while appearing eager to stand during the national anthem. No matter your political leanings, it is always encouraging when sports stars - particularly those in the spotlight - are free to express their opinions, even when they don't reflect those of the people watching them. Griner will continue to fight for causes she believes in; I just hope she remembers that America has her back and will do whatever is necessary to safeguard its citizens if she stands by "The Star Spangled Banner." I think they would love the opportunity to show just how much they cherish her! Why It’s a Good Thing Back in 2020, at the peak of George Floyd protests, Griner refused to stand during the national anthem before WNBA games, arguing that it did not reflect black Americans or give her any right to remain on court during its playing. She even suggested that the WNBA stop playing the national anthem before their games as part of her protest, something I don't necessarily agree with, although I understand why she might feel this way. Griner made her return to the game on Friday night and it was evident she has taken a different stance towards the national anthem than previously expressed in comments she made during her initial return, suggesting she has had a change of heart regarding its meaning and standing with her team for it before their matchup against Los Angeles Sparks. It will be exciting to witness where Griner takes this change of attitude with regards to the national anthem in her career going forward. Griner might still believe in some causes she could advocate for by refusing to stand during the anthem, but her recent experience in Russia has altered her perspective of American life and all it stands for and offers. Additionally, it gave her an appreciation of its people going above and beyond to secure her release from a Russian prison. As Griner returns to the WNBA, I hope she can remain an inspiring role model for women and girls, taking a stand on important issues like pay equity for WNBA players and expanding female sports. While it's great that she continues fighting for social justice through activism, her arguments may be more persuasive when she embraces rather than denies the national anthem as part of her campaigning strategy. As an aside, I find it surprising that so many on the left are accusing Griner's new position on the anthem as being unpatriotic; they seem unaware that her response may simply reflect her experiences in Russia and should allow her to express herself freely without interference or restrictions from WNBA officials. Why It’s a Bad Thing Griner was one of the more vocal members of her WNBA team who refused to stand for the national anthem before games in 2020. At that time, she expressed discontent that it needed to be played, suggesting instead that it should not even exist as an obligation for league participants. Now, however, she has experienced a dramatic transformation in her attitude toward the national anthem. Speaking with reporters after an exhibition game against Los Angeles Sparks, she informed them she now felt differently towards it and expressed her gratitude and appreciation for our nation during a postgame interview. "Listening to the national anthem hits differently now," she stated. Griner provided an impressively clear way of framing the issue of anthem protests and demonstrated her newfound understanding that her previous position on them was incorrect. While she may disagree with those she heard chanting in Russia, she now understands how far America goes in protecting its citizens against foreign politics and oppressive regimes. Griner was given such attention by the US that her release was included as part of a prisoner swap deal between Viktor Bout and himself. Under Biden, Griner was declared unlawfully detained, leading them to negotiate her freedom. Unfortunately Whelan wasn't chosen, yet Griner has changed her perspective since being in detention. Sports fans should keep this in mind when looking at protests by WNBA players over recent years. Not only are they protesting racial injustice, but by not standing for the national anthem they send the message that America may not always deserve its flag and national anthem. Griner's shift in her understanding of the significance of the national anthem shows she's not someone who takes unwise stands with no good justification. I hope the WNBA now stands by Griner and encourages its players to follow in her footsteps; now is the time for athletes to stop complaining about its meaning and begin understanding its symbolism. Why She Should Stand for the Anthem WNBA players have long made activism an integral component of their work and public personae. From advocating for equal pay for women in sports leagues to speaking out and taking a knee, their activism has long been used as a powerful means for shifting hearts and minds in our increasingly divisive nation. From negotiating an unprecedented collective bargaining agreement to dedicating the 2020 season to social justice issues; from honoring Breonna Taylor on their jerseys to mobilizing Biden Administration efforts to bring Griner home from her traumatic detention, these athletes have fully embraced their roles as activist activists while proudly shaping national discourse. Griner's statements from 2020 have left many shocked and disappointed, especially regarding her new position on the national anthem. According to Time's op-ed on her agent's reasoning behind standing for it: she respects American freedoms including "an inviolable right to sit, stand, kneel praise or protest as one sees fit". But why did Griner change her mind? One reason may lie in her renewed appreciation and gratitude towards America. Griner made this clear during her postgame remarks after Phoenix Mercury's opening night game against Los Angeles Sparks on May 12 when she noted how hearing the national anthem now "definitely hits different" due to her experiences in Russia. Griner was especially struck by this experience, since the national anthem represents American values of freedom of speech and association, democracy and active citizenship - values she now realizes she contributes towards as a member of her nation's military service. After years of difficult efforts by the United States to bring Griner home from Russia this past December, she finally arrived back home following a prisoner exchange deal between herself and convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout. It marked a tremendous victory not only for WNBA and America but also symbolized how far this administration had come in freeing wrongfully detained citizens - such as her own. Griner should honor her adopted country through singing their national anthem during performances to show appreciation.

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