By Andrew Both
LIBERTY NATIONAL, New Jersey (Reuters) – The United States team at this week’s Presidents Cup will not protest during the national anthem, captain Steve Stricker said on Tuesday.
Speaking two days before the start of the biennial event against an International team, Stricker said his players would follow the usual protocol if they are present when the anthem is sung before the first match on Thursday.
“We’ve had a discussion already and none of my players want to do that (protest),” he said at a news conference at Liberty National, within sight of the Statue of Liberty.
“I just wanted to know what they wanted to do and how we wanted to proceed as a team.
“So we were going to do what we wanted to do and that’s take off our hat and put our hands across our chest and over our heart and respect the flag.”
In a gesture initiated last season by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, several NFL players have routinely “taken one knee” during the playing of the anthem. It is intended to call attention to what the protesting players see as a pattern of racism in the treatment of African-Americans by U.S. police.
The issue has been magnified since U.S. President Donald Trump last Friday said any NFL player who protested during the anthem was a “son of a bitch” who should be fired.
Trump on Tuesday called for the NFL to ban any player who knelt during the anthem.
The generally conservative world of professional golf has steered clear of the controversy.
At the Presidents Cup, the players might not even be present during the brief ceremony before the first match on Thursday, when songwriter and singer Darius Rucker will sing the U.S. national anthem.
“We talked about it on the bus today,” said Stricker, who added that he deferred to his 12 players.
“It was up to them … We all realize there are some things going on in the world that aren’t right.
“We want to show our support for the flag and it (acknowledging the anthem) gives us the opportunity to come together as a team.”
U.S. assistant captain Davis Love said on Tuesday that he did not approve of anthem protests.
“We ought to take a break during the prayer or during the national anthem to thank our country, to thank our forefathers who went before us,” the victorious 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain said on the Golf Channel.
“And then we can protest with our votes, with our letters to our congressmen or however we want.
“But I think President Trump is right. There is a time for protest, and it probably isn’t during the national anthem. Our country has fought hard for that right.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Toby Davis)