FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ women’s basketball team has made a decision on whether they will continue to kneel during the national anthem preceding their ball games.
Six members of the team kneeled during last week’s opening exhibition game in an effort to bring attention to the atrocities they say continue against African-Americans.
In the days following the demonstration, fans from around the state erupted in protest on social media, and in communications with the University.
“They have come to me in the last few days.” coach Jimmy Dykes said Wednesday. “They’ve expressed that they will no longer kneel during the national anthem.”
The players say they got the message from those that support them, and many whose allegiance is wavering.
“We have heard from many of our fans.” said sophomore Jordan Danberry of Conway. “We would like to repeat that we have great respect for our military for our veterans that have served our country.”
One of those who voiced criticism is Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale), who took his complaints a bit further, saying he would put a hold on the University’s budget until more questions were answered.
“I am pleased with the decision by the UA Women’s Basketball team to no longer kneel at basketball games,” Clark told ArklahomaSports.com on Wednesday. “It appears the university had the conversations with the young ladies they should’ve had in the first place.
“But there are still questions that need to be answered. The team has been invited to come visit with the budget committee. I do not believe UA has responded to the invitation.”
He said he supports the athletes, but is still not pleased with how the issue was handled by their administration.
“I think it is possible a fraud has been committed on the state when leadership at the University talked about how much they support First Amendment rights. I believe investigation will reveal that much more powerful people than me with a lot more money at stake had conversations with college leadership,” Clark predicted. “As a result, I think leadership has now seen fit to have conversations with the young ladies that they should’ve had in the first place.”
Clark says in a time where political divisiveness has been at an all time high, the way the issue was handled is incorrect.
“I would like to see someone get to the bottom of the story and see at what price leadership was no longer as interested in the First Amendment,” Clark said. “Arkansas is a conservative state and its people are proud of their conservative values on things like standing for the anthem, marriage, and not being dictated to on the subject of bathrooms.
“Its people are tired of being jerked around and told what their values should and should not be by smug people in ivory towers. In my opinion, the UA picked a bad time to pile on.
“UA leadership should not jerk the people of the state around, use the young ladies as a scapegoat, and when the heat is on say, ‘Never mind’.”
The team is back in action on Friday morning against Sam Houston State University.