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The South Carolina women’s basketball team refused to take the floor for the national anthem prior to a Final Four game over the weekend. The Gamecocks, who are led by Head Coach Dawn Staley, opted to stay in their locker-room prior to their semi-finals clash with Louisville, which they ultimately won.

The Louisville Cardinals stayed on the floor for the national anthem while South Carolina was absent in protest. Dawn Staley’s team has protested during the national anthem in some form since at least January 2021, in order “to bring awareness to racial injustice in our country,” Staley herself Sean Hurd of Andscape.

Though the anthem is played at the Gamecocks’ home games, the team does not emerge from the locker room as it plays. But if, during away games, “opposing teams choose to play the anthem during the time we’re in the locker room, then we choose to stay in the locker room,” Staley further explained.

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In June 2020, Staley justified the violent BLM riots that left more than 30 dead. “When you’re a black person, you’re forced to see race,” she said. “You’re forced to see the color of your skin by what’s done to you and said to you. Where we are today, with the riots, I don’t think the people rioting really understand how to be heard or how to converse. Because whoever is on the other side of that conversation, they’re not talking, they are not listening and they are not doing. So this is how people are lashing out.”

Until Friday’s tilt with Louisville, when the Cardinals opted to stay on the floor, all of South Carolina’s opponents had joined them in protesting the anthem.

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The nation’s top-ranked South Carolina squad ultimately won the game in dominant fashion, beating Louisville by a final score of 72-59. The team will now face off against UConn in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship game on Sunday.

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Source: National File

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