No reason for LSU basketball team to miss national anthem

The NCAA women’s Elite Eight matchup between the University of Iowa Hawkeyes and the Louisiana State University Tigers on Monday night was one for the ages. It was a highly anticipated contest featuring the defending national champions, LSU, against the team with the game’s best player, Caitlin Clark. The game was an instant classic and arguably one of the season’s most exciting women’s basketball games. Unfortunately, it also made news for all the wrong reasons before it began.

As the Washington Examiner reported, LSU’s team was not present on the court before the game during the national anthem. Video of the Tigers’ absence went viral on social media as the team opted to stay in the locker room. Video showed that the University of Iowa team was on the court, holding hands, with many bowing their heads, while “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed. 

After the game, in which Iowa defeated LSU 94-87, Kim Mulkey, the Tigers’ coach, claimed her team didn’t skip the anthem or intentionally miss it. Instead, Mulkey said, the team is never on the court for the anthem as part of the team’s usual pregame routine.

“Honestly, I don’t even know when the anthem was played,” Mulkey said at the postgame press conference. “We kind of have a routine where we’re on the floor, and then they come off [at the] 12-minute mark.”

“We just, I don’t know, we come in, and we do our pregame stuff. I’m sorry. I, listen, I, that’s nothing intentionally done,” Mulkey said.

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By all accounts, Mulkey’s story does seem to check out. Many users on social media pointed out that LSU was rarely, if ever, on the court during the national anthem. However, that doesn’t make it right. Despite Mulkey’s explanation, there is no good excuse for missing the national anthem. Unless this was the first sporting event every member of LSU’s women’s basketball team ever played, those players know the national anthem is played before every game. And they know it is customary for teams to stand while it is performed.

Whatever the reason, not being on the court was disrespectful. It’s an arrogant display of ignorance and self-centeredness. Either the team skipped it as a protest of some sort (and tried to cover it up by claiming they were never on the court for it), or they didn’t care enough about it to be on the court for its performance. Neither is a good look for the basketball team, nor should it be considered a valid and acceptable excuse.

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