South Carolina Women’s Basketball Protests During National Anthem During NCAA Final Four

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Prior to winning the 2022 NCAA Championship, the South Carolina Women’s Basketball team protested during the National Anthem on Friday (April 1st).

According to Fox News, South Carolina’s Gamecocks were not on the court during the National Anthem before their game against Final Four competitor, Louisville. The Cardinal players did appear on one side of the court with their arms intertwined before tip-off.  

Although the Louisville Cardinals did not remain in the locker room during the National Anthem unlike South Carolina, the team did warm up wearing Adidas t-shirts. They read, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Although the team not being out during the National Anthem drew some attention inside and outside the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the South Carolina women’s team also received some attention for their coaching staff. The team’s coach, Dawn Staley, also made headlines while playing against UConn during the National Championship game. Staley wore a varsity jacket that costs $4,850 from Louis Vuitton. She also donned matching shoes. 

The South Carolina Gamecocks Stayed in the Locker Room During the National Anthem in the 2020-2021 Season 

This isn’t the first season that the Gamecocks sat out during the National Anthem. The team sat out in the 2020-2021 season as well.

During an interview with Andscape, Coach Staley spoke about the team’s decision to sit out during the pre-game tradition last year. “The majority of our players has set during the playing of the national anthem every game this season. A decision made by our players to bring awareness to racial injustice in our country. If opposing teams choose to play the anthem during the time we’re in the locker room, then we choose to stay in the locker room.”

Staley also said that she spoke to South Carolina associate coach, Lisa Boyer about the situation. “She told me, ‘I love our country. That’s why I stand. Because I love our country. I wouldn’t want to live in any other country.’ I love our country too. I don’t like what our country has come to. Or what our country has been. But I’d like to think that there are people in our country that’s going to lead us more in a unified way than a divisive way. And I’m here for that.”

Coach Staley also confirmed that she would never ask her players to stand during the National Anthem. “When I asked them if they thought I was asking them to stand, some of them said yes. And I said, ‘No, I wasn’t asking you to do that.’ I said, ‘It’s in an effort to understand. You’re sitting. And I understand why you’re sitting. But in order for us to come to an understanding, we have to see what other people are saying. Whether they are on your side, or not on your side. Or if they’re in the middle.’”