The NWSL Challenge Cup started with a bang on multiple fronts. Along with the amazing soccer played, the teams made an impressive stance in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
During the playing of the national anthem of both opening matches on Saturday, most players took a knee in a demonstration of solidarity against racial injustice.
More noticeably, Casey Shot and Julie Ertz were captured in a very intimate moment before the kickoff between Chicago Red Stars and Washington Spirit. The two shared an embrace and shed tears while kneeling.
— NWSL (@NWSL) June 28, 2020
While this moment was important and touching; the coverage of it was subpar. The clip was featured as one of the highlights for the match.
A lot of backlash came at the NWSL for marketing such a profound and private moment as a consumable highlight.
I for one am happy about that. It was amazing moment that should be discussed and remembered for a long time. But it should NOT be a marketing highlight.
Pedaling the league via @CaseyShort3 's pain and @julieertz 's compassion is not a good luck.— Ice-Berg (@ericbergson) June 30, 2020
As a response, a new highlight video was uploaded that didn’t have the clip with Julie Ertz and Casey Short, which is encouraging. Mistakes happen, and it’s nice to see when companies actually try to fix them.
An observation that I am probably late to, but here goes anyway:The NWSL took down its original Chicago-Washington highlights video from YouTube and replaced it with a shorter one that doesn't have the long clip of the anthem being played.
— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) June 29, 2020
Following this, the NWSL responded again by ‘tweaking’ the flexibility of the national anthem.
The anthem will still be played, but players now have the choice to be on the field or in the locker room.
Expect anthem policy update from #NWSL soon — from my understanding, players will be able to stay in the locker room if they choose during the pregame playing.— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) June 29, 2020
The NWSL is built on diversity and inclusion. Such a monumental step for players to demonstrate their views is encouraging.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: We love to see it.