The Los Angeles Sparks walked off the court prior to the national anthem before today’s Game 1 of the WNBA Finals in Minnesota, and returned to the court after the song concluded.
A statement released by the WNBPA explained the reasons behind the demonstration:
“After careful and thoughtful discussion, the players of the Los Angeles Sparks unanimously determined that we would remain in the locker room in solidarity with the many players of the NFL, who took part in demonstrations today all over the country and across the globe. We will use the time to reflect and engage in constructive conversation about our country.
“This demonstration of support is consistent with who we are as individuals, athletes, teammates, citizens. It is consistent with our mission as a union of players and our core values.
“This is our opportunity to unite rather than divide our country. This is our sole focus.”
The Sparks’ opponents, the Minnesota Lynx, stayed on the court and linked arms during the anthem. The Lynx made headlines last year when off-duty police officers quit their jobs at a game after members of the team spoke out against violence following the killing of Philando Castile by a police officer.
The Sparks won, 85-84, to open the best-of-five series.