LSU women did not walk out on national anthem in protest

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LSU women’s basketball did skip the national anthem before the Elite Eight game against Iowa. But this is part of their normal pregame routine and wasn’t a protest.

Louisiana State University’s women’s basketball team is facing backlash from Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry and other people online after staying in the locker room during the national anthem before their Elite Eight game against Iowa on Monday, April 1. 

A viral video shared on X shows Iowa women’s basketball players holding hands on the court during the national anthem, while the LSU women’s basketball team is absent. Other posts shared since then claimed that LSU skipped the national anthem ahead of the game as a form of protest. 

“Didn’t know we were still protesting the anthem,” one post with more than 200,000 views says

VERIFY reader Mike also texted us to ask about the LSU women’s basketball team leaving the court for the national anthem ahead of the Elite Eight game. 

THE QUESTION

Did the LSU women’s basketball team skip the national anthem in protest?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, the LSU women’s basketball team did not skip the national anthem in protest. The team leaves the court around the same time the national anthem plays as part of their pregame routine, and has done so for the last several seasons. 

WHAT WE FOUND

The LSU women’s basketball team was not on the court for the national anthem ahead of their Elite Eight game against Iowa. But leaving the court around the same time the national anthem plays is part of the team’s normal pregame routine and was not done as a form of protest. 

LSU coach Kim Mulkey explained during a postgame press conference on Monday that the team did not intentionally skip the national anthem. 

When a reporter asked Mulkey if skipping the national anthem was a “conscious decision” on her part, Mulkey said, “Honestly, I don’t even know when the anthem was played. We kind of have a routine where we are on the floor and 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 – listen, that’s nothing intentionally done,” Mulkey said during the press conference. 

The university also addressed the team’s absence during the national anthem in a statement provided to VERIFY partner station WWL.

“Our basketball programs have not been on the court for the anthem for the last several seasons. Usually the anthem is played 12 minutes before the game when the team is in the locker room doing final preparations,” a spokesperson for LSU said in the statement. 

Chessa Bouche, a sports reporter for BR Proud in Baton Rouge who addressed the team’s absence from the court on X, told VERIFY in an email that the LSU football team doesn’t stay on the field for the national anthem, either. 

“I’ve covered LSU for six years and all three years under Mulkey, [the women’s basketball team] has done the same thing,” Bouche added.

Bouche also said in another post on X that it’s a “common practice in college sports” for teams to be in the locker room during the national anthem.

Both the UConn and USC women’s basketball teams were not on the court for the national anthem during their Elite Eight matchup on Monday, April 1, either, according to Bouche and the Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans.

VERIFY partner station WWL contributed to this report. 

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LSU women did not walk out on national anthem in protest

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