The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

National anthem protests won’t include Hawkeyes

Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz said in a press conference Tuesday that he preferred his players to leave their political viewpoints outside the realm of football.
(Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

Despite national-anthem protests by NFL and college athletes nationwide, Hawkeye coaches and players said the football team will likely leave political stances outside Kinnick.

Head football coach Kirk Ferentz said in a news conference Tuesday he prefers his players to be activists on their own time and to be unified on the field.

“This is the one time we put everything aside. We all dress alike, act alike, and we’re trying to do the same thing,” he said. “Whatever they do on campus is great, as long as it’s not illegal or immoral. I’m all for it.”

Saturday at Michigan State, and every game in the foreseeable future, the Hawkeyes plan on standing with hands over hearts during the national anthem, as usual.

The national-anthem protest movement began in 2016, when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling for the national anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice for blacks in America.

The issue escalated over the weekend when President Trump urged NFL owners to fire players who did not stand for the national anthem.

Three NFL teams responded to the president’s criticisms Sunday by skipping the national anthem before the game. Dozens of other teams across the country protested by kneeling or sitting during the anthem.

At the University of Iowa, Assistant Athletics Director of Communications Steven Roe said in an email to The Daily Iowan that there is no university-wide or league-wide policy for what players must do during the national anthem.

RELATED: Baumann: Ferentz didn’t take a stand when he should have

“Some teams are in view during the anthem, some are in the locker room,” Roe said in the email. “It is not mandated by the Big Ten that teams be present.”

For the Hawkeyes, however, the message of unity remains consistent from the top down. Akrum Wadley, an Iowa running back who is black, said the team is dedicated to its goals for the Big Ten Championship and doesn’t want a protest to distract from that.

“If we’re all going to do something, we’re all going to do it,” Wadley said. “We’re not going to have one person do one thing and the rest of the team doing another.”

At City High, four senior girls take a different viewpoint. They are spreading the word on social media to encourage the student section to kneel or sit down during the national anthem at Friday night’s game.

“I think the general consensus is that the flag and the anthem and the things that we do before a game to honor our country all stand for certain promises that not everybody in this country is benefiting from,” said Mary Liebig, one of the four senior girls who organized the protest.

Other organizers include Amelia Morrow, Bihotza James-Lejarcegui, and Kawther Rouhabi.

For the Hawkeyes, the football field will remain an arena to do exactly that — play football.

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About the Contributor
Sarah Watson, Executive Editor


Email: [email protected] Twitter: @K_5mydearwatson Sarah Watson is the executive editor at The Daily Iowan. She's in her fourth year at the University of Iowa, studying journalism and political science. Previously, she coordinated election and political coverage as a three-semester politics editor, and has reported on student government and the statehouse. Last spring, she stepped into the role of the DI's managing news editor. She's an advocate for transparent government and is committed to making journalism work better for people of all identities. She also thinks pineapple on pizza is a good idea. Email her for a discussion.