Football has been the hottest flash point of controversy in this country this week, ever since President Donald Trump at a Friday night rally in Alabama called players who kneel for the National Anthem “sons of bitches” and encouraged NFL owners to fire said players.
That provoked a near-league wide response, where almost every team did something and most settled a team-wide demonstration of locking arms for the Anthem as a “show of unity.”
The demonstrations, which have been going on since last season in a more-limited scope, have been limited to the NFL (and some youth players) and contained from college football thus far, since most college football teams are not on the field for the Anthem.
That will be true for Saturday’s Northwestern-Wisconsin game at Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium. But that won’t stop the Wildcats from mimicking their professional colleagues.
As Teddy Greenstein reports for the Chicago Tribune, Northwestern will take the field together in locked arms on Saturday.
Northwestern visits Wisconsin on Saturday, and the color guard is scheduled to play the national anthem at 10:55 a.m., 11 minutes before kickoff. Because of that time lag, teams rarely, if ever, appear on the Camp Randall Stadium field. The Badgers are slated to exit their locker room at 11:02, followed by Northwestern.
Fitzgerald said the Wildcats, including coaches and staff, will take the field with arms locked following the Badgers.
Northwestern is one of the rare schools that puts both teams on the field for the National Anthem, and head coach Pat Fitzgerald said he won’t stop his players from demonstrating before their next home game with Penn State on Oct. 7.
“I fully support our guys,” Fitzgerald told the paper. “Our guys are special; I think they are the leaders of tomorrow.”
Northwestern would not be the first team in recent memory to lock arms in a political demonstration. Oklahoma cancelled a day of spring practice in 2015 following the publication of a video showing OU fraternity members singing a song containing the n-word.
It’s not surprising that Northwestern’s players would want to follow the lead of the NFL. It would be surprising if they are the only college team to demonstrate in some form or fashion on Saturday.