Hours after colleagues from other teams knelt during the national anthem, Casey Short and Julie Ertz followed suit.
Short and Ertz shared exceptionally raw excitement on Saturday night, just before their Chicago Red Stars faced Washington Spirit in the National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup.
You can see the moment above, captured by Associated Press photographer Rick Bowmer, and also below, as presented by the NWSL:
Short, a black woman, closely supported by her teammate Ertz, a white woman and captain of the team. Both knelt during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Wearing Black Lives Matter shirts.
The power of the image needs little explanation.
“I think the emotions you saw Casey had before the game, and probably Julie also at the time, I think most of our team has been having those kinds of emotions all day,” said Red Stars coach Rory. Dames, “struggling” with what was right or how you showed solidarity, and how you support the Black Lives Matter movement and what is happening. “
The NWSL has been proactive in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. A video of black players speaking on the subject is pinned to the top of the league’s official Twitter account.
One of the themes is the ally, and the video is intertwined with comments from Short herself, who posted on social media on June 5 when protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody spread across the whole country.
The notion of aliases also sparked a backlash for Short’s teammate Rachel Hill, who was the only Red Stars starter who didn’t kneel on Saturday night. (Three Spirit starters also stood up, plus several bench players.) Hill was not available to speak after the game, and Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler III apparently spoke for her in a Twitter thread.
“Players and staff are unified in their support for BLM and each other. That’s 100% complete without ambiguity, ”Whisler tweeted. “Trying to read an emotional moment (sic) on television and assuming you know what is in their hearts is not fair or correct.”
The NWSLPA issued a statement of its own on Sunday morning, writing in part that “Whether a player chooses to kneel or stand during the national anthem is a personal decision and is not indicative of whether he supports BLM or his teammates.”
Hill wrong to stop? Does arguing for the right to kneel, by function, also argue for the right to stand?
Did Hill request to stand next to Short specifically because he knew he wasn’t going to kneel, but also wanted to put his arm on her shoulder as a way to show support? Should whites show solidarity regardless of how they feel, because so much of this whole moment in America is due to an inability to look beyond oneself?
Some answers that we don’t know. Others depend on us individually.
As a matter of exercise and nothing else, let’s leave things for now in Short’s own words.
“I think mistakes should be mentioned constructively,” Short wrote, “but let’s not punish someone who makes an effort because they are not doing enough according to their personal standards.”