While Everyone Else Knelt, 1 Pro Athlete Refused To Bow to Mob and Stood Tall for Her Country


Goalkeeper is a lonely position in soccer.

I should know, having played it in rec soccer and middle school. You always have to keep alert, but I remember occasionally eating my breakfast in goal while the ball was on the other end of the field.

It’s a matter of being the last line of defense for your team — and it rubs off on you in terms of your mentality. You have to stand a little taller. You coordinate with your teammates, obviously, but you have so much responsibility.

Few positions in sports are as singular as being a goalkeeper.

That’s the lesson from Samantha Murphy, a goalkeeper for the North Carolina Courage. If you haven’t heard of the team, you’re probably not a women’s soccer fan.

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The Courage might not be the best-known franchise in America, but they’re in the top division in the women’s sport — and they have the distinction of being the first team to almost unanimously take a knee during the national anthem before a game against the Portland Thorns FC in the National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup on Saturday at Zions Bank Stadium near Salt Lake City.

“We took a knee today to protest racial injustice, police brutality and systemic racism against Black people and people of color in America,” a joint statement from the two teams read, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “We love our country and we have taken this opportunity to hold it to a higher standard. It is our duty to demand that the liberties and freedoms this nation was founded upon are extended to everyone.”

This is ostensibly what people want in terms of displays of wokeness for public consumption. The statement was read during the CBS broadcast of the game.

This was only almost unanimous, however, inasmuch as Murphy decided to remain standing.

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This doesn’t mean that she’s anti-Black Lives Matter. In fact, she wore a BLM T-shirt before the game, as did all the other players. She also knelt during a moment of silence before the game — a moment that would have been a more appropriate time for the players to kneel, but there you go.

Of course, the kneeling was what most people focused on — including the NWSL’s most famous player (and most famous anthem-kneeler).

“You love to see it,” Megan Rapinoe said in a tweet. “You love to see these women using their voice, demanding better for America, and for black people and people of color.”

That almost sounds like a command: Say you love it, America! Say you love it or you’re going to be sorry.

Some people, however, still have respect for the national anthem and what it represents. Samantha Murphy is one of those people.

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The shoe is on the other foot now: However poorly it reflected on your patriotism and your sense of propriety, there was no denying that, in the Colin Kaepernick days, you opened yourself up to censure for refusing to stand during the national anthem. That’s gone now that everyone is kneeling. The real courage, it seems, is found in standing for the anthem.

Few headlines mentioned the final score. (The Courage ended up winning 2-1, for whatever it’s worth.) What they mentioned was the fact that almost every player knelt as if it were an act of courage.

The only player who lived up to her team’s moniker, however, was Samantha Murphy.

Bravo to her for standing tall for her country — and shame to those in the media who celebrated the politically expedient groupthink everyone on the field Saturday evinced.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture