In a nod to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, pro soccer player and U.S. Women's National Team member Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the national anthem played before Sunday's game between her team, the Seattle Reign, and the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women's Soccer League.
"We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country," Rapinoe said after the game.
Rapinoe said she intends to continue to kneel during the national anthem -- but on Wednesday, before the Reign's road game against the Washington Spirit, Rapinoe was denied that opportunity when the Spirit's ownership decided to play the anthem before she and her teammates took the field.
"We understand this may be seen as an extraordinary step, but believe it was the best option to avoid taking focus away from the game on such an important night for our franchise," the Spirit said in a statement.
"As a veteran owned team, the national anthem holds an exceptionally special meaning for this organization. Our owner Bill Lynch has lost personal friends during overseas conflicts and has other close friends who have also lost loved ones."
In their statement, the Spirit went on to say Rapinoe is "an amazing individual with a huge heart" but said "we strongly feel that there are better ways to begin a conversation about a cause than tarnishing a tradition that is so important to so many."
Rapinoe wasn't the only Seattle-based athlete to refuse to stand for the anthem in the last week: Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane took a knee during the anthem played before his team's final preseason game Thursday.
Washington Spirit prevents Megan Rapinoe taking a knee during national anthem by playing anthem ahead of schedule. pic.twitter.com/Oc54ljhFe1
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) September 8, 2016
After the game, Rapinoe expressed disappointment with the decision.
Megan Rapinoe was disappointed by the Spirit's decision and wording of their statement. pic.twitter.com/qLtLrE05ya
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 8, 2016
— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) September 8, 2016