There will be no protests by U.S. team members during the national anthem at the Presidents Cup golf match, captain Steve Stricker said Tuesday. He said he addressed the issue with his players and they agreed to approach the moment by doing “what we always do.”
The context will be different than it is at almost all other sporting events, notably the NFL, which has seen the anthem become a flash point with many players kneeling in protest and whole teams standing with arms interlocked. In golf, the anthem is almost never played and when it is, it is a major element at international competition, such as the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup. The latter will begin Thursday at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, with the United States playing the International squad.
Also, professional golf involves a different demographic than other sports do. All 12 American golfers in the Presidents Cup are white. Still, Stricker acknowledged the nationwide discussion over the NFL situation during a meeting with the players and his assistant captains. He offered the option of some type of silent statement.
“We’ve had that discussion already,” he said during a joint news conference with International team captain Nick Price, “and none of my players want to do that.
“I just wanted to know what they wanted to do and how we wanted to proceed as a team,” Stricker said. “So we are going to do what we always do and that’s take off our hat and put our hands across our chest and over our heart and respect the flag. That’s what we’re planning on doing.”
Phil Mickelson said: “Look, we have social injustices in this country and we should all strive to eliminate them. We’ve made great strides over the years but we’ve got a ways to go and we should all strive to eliminate those. But this week, I’m so proud to represent the United States, to play for my country, to play for my teammates and participate in this great event.”
Traditionally at the Ryder Cup (which matches the United States against Europe), the American anthem is performed as are the national anthems of all players on the other team. On Thursday, “The Star-Spangled Banner” will be sung by Darius Rucker, a recording star and ardent golf enthusiast, in a ceremony that will include the presentation of colors by police officers, firefighters and other first responders from Jersey City and New York.
National fervor is expected to be high, as it usually is in such matches. But Price, referring to the fact that the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline are clearly visible from the course, said: “Of all the cities that you would want to play in for the Internationals, this is the best one because it’s the most cosmopolitan city in America and made up of so many ethnicities. We are hoping to get a lot of support out here. As you know, the New York fans are as vocal as can be, so there’s going to be a lot of noise out there, which is great.”
Stricker said, “To Nick’s point, there will be a mixture [of cheering] for his team. Ultimately, we are playing in the U.S. We are going to get a lot of support.”