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Sue Bird and the rest of the WNBA have been at the forefront of social justice protests and during the 2021 season, most players have left the court before the national anthem has played.
Bird and Team USA have no plans to leave the court for the national anthem during Olympic competitions this coming week and the Seattle Storm legend sees no contradiction in it.
“You are wearing USA jerseys, and it does change the conversation a little bit and what you’re representing,” Bird told the Associated Press on Saturday. “With that, I don’t feel like a hypocrite in any way. Everyone knows where we stand. I don’t think it contradicts anything since we’re actually doing the work.”
Bird and her fellow Olympic teammates have shown unity through their exhibition matches by locking arms before tip-off. Bird was also the U.S. flag bearer during the parade of nations at the opening ceremony in Tokyo.
She said she believes people know where their stance is on social justice issues.
“We all want our country to be a better place, and that’s what this is about,” Bird added. “That’s an athlete’s mentality, and there’s really no better people to do that than athletes. What do we do every single day? What do we talk about? Getting better. … I think we should approach our country that way.”
Political gestures are allowed before official competitions begin but barred on the medal stands and during events. The U.S. women’s soccer team knelt earlier in the week before their match against Sweden.
The anthem is played right before the start of basketball games, which would make it difficult in general for players to leave the court.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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