‘Our guys were pretty upset’: SMU Basketball Explains Decision to Abstain from National Anthem

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas — As the clock ticked just under 14 minutes tonight, a hush fell over Moody Coliseum. It was the kind of stillness that stifles life, one that makes even your breath seem like a disturbance.

Please rise and remove your caps…” the voice of the public address announcer boomed into the speakers, still outfitted to address crowds of a much more raucous and numerous nature.

But this time, the voice was projected into a vacuum. The gym was empty. The floor was empty. The lights, that normally spotlight the court, shined on nothing but cavernous space.

And, as the first notes of the national anthem were blasted into the gym, the scene stood is stark juxtaposition to the violence and chaos that enveloped the nation’s capital yesterday. SMU did not come out for the national anthem.

“What’s going on in our society is unbelievable and not a representation of the United States,” SMU point guard Kendric Davis said after the game.

“We must take a stand. Being Black or African American in America is almost scary, so we decided as a team to not represent the Anthem until we are all treated equally as one in our country,” he said.

SMU basketball has stood for every single national anthem this season thus far. It is one of the few teams in the American Athletic Conference to do so, according to SMU head coach Tim Jankovich.

But after a pro- Donald Trump mob stormed the Capital building yesterday, breaking into the Senate chambers in an effort to stop the nomination of Joe Biden as President, that stopped. Jankovich noted the team talked over the last 36 hours about the best way forward.

Typically this year, SMU has come out with about 14 minutes left before tip-off and held a moment of silence. A statement is usually read about racial justice. The team takes a knee. Then, it stands of the national anthem.

Usually, as well, SMU is the only team on the court for this time. The visiting teams at Moody Coliseum have mostly abstained from the national anthem and stayed in the locker room. Today, SMU joined in that path. There was no moment of silence, it was just empty.

“We haven’t had a lot of discussions. We are preparing for the games as they come on you. But there was a discussion yesterday,” Jankovich said.

“But our guys were pretty upset by what they saw yesterday. They said, ‘Hey, is it OK if we don’t go out?’ That was a discussion and I definitely feel how they feel” he finished.

There was no one player who initiated this, according to SMU center Yor Anei. It was more of just a collective idea. This idea, he hopes, will speak volumes.

“We honestly just made that choice because of everything that has been going on in the world,” Anei said.

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