The U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials took place this weekend in Oregon. Once a day during the trials the national anthem was scheduled to play throughout the stadium.
Saturday the Star-Spangled Banner played at the same time the women’s Hammer Throwers were receiving their medals. Gwen Berry, who placed bronzed, paced on the podium while the national anthem was playing. Berry then turned away from the flag towards the stands and placed a t-shirt over her head that read “activist athlete.”
Berry is a known outspoken athlete and activist. She says she made it known that she did not want to stand during the national anthem, claiming the song was scheduled to play before they walked out.
“I feel like it was a setup, and they did it on purpose. I was pissed, to be honest.”
USA Track and Field spokeswoman Susan Hazzard says “the national anthem was scheduled to play at 5:20 p.m. today. We didn’t wait until the athletes were on the podium for the hammer throw awards. The national anthem is played every day according to a previously published schedule.”
Berry stated that her purpose and mission is bigger than sports.
“I’m here to represent those … who died due to systemic racism. That’s the important part. That’s why I’m going. That’s why I’m here today.”
Tony Katz says her logic is flawed.
“You won’t stand for the national anthem because the thing you say exists in America-is the same exact thing that didn’t keep you from being on that stage? I don’t know how you figure that.”
Berry says above sports she will continue to “speak for my community, to represent my community and to help my community.”
Katz says that turning her back on the national anthem does nothing for her cause. She is allowed to have an opinion, but the way she went about her cause says more about her than anything, Katz notes.
“You wanted attention. Congratulations you got attention. Actually doing anything for the country? Nope. Not all. You haven’t done a thing to make your life, or anybody you know’s life, or anybody you don’t know’s life better. Not a thing with this movement.”
This isn’t the first time Berry has publicly protested during an event. The athlete made news in 2019 for raising her fist during the national anthem after accepting a gold medal at the Pan Am Games.