Fans booed United States Armed Forces enlistees at a professional women’s soccer game in Portland last week.
The enlistees took the field during halftime of the Portland Thorns and North Carolina Courage on Wednesday to take the Oath of Enlistment.
When the group was asked to vow that they would “obey the orders of the President of the United States,” boos erupted from the crowd of more than 17,000 in attendance, The Oregonian reported.
Major League Soccer, the highest level of men’s professional soccer in the United States, recently banned political displays at games. The National Women’s Soccer League, the organization in which the Thorns play, has no such prohibition on political gestures. However, the Thorns – like their MLS counterparts in Portland – have enforced the ban on politics-related signs this season.
Some commenters on social media criticized the Thorns after the booing controversy, arguing that the swearing-in ceremony was inherently political.
mls: antifa is political and politics aren't allowed in our stadiums
also mls: https://t.co/HXiHQpwiYh
— The Ape of God (@simiadei) September 12, 2019
The ceremony was scheduled to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11.
Sports get political and not just for the Portland Thorns
In recent years, sports fans have found it difficult to escape the specter of politics.
Protests by several high-profile sports figures have thrust a debate regarding deference to the American flag and national anthem into the mainstream consciousness. And such cultural battles have split largely along partisan lines.
Conservatives have taken issue with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem to protest injustice against minorities.
Since he first sat down during the anthem in Aug. 2016, athletes such as Women’s World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe have followed his lead.
Rapinoe, who once described herself as a “walking protest,” has become a divisive figure of late: beloved by liberals who welcome her championing of progressive causes and denounced by conservatives who view her as unpatriotic and smug.
The former University of Portland standout’s political statements off the field – blasting Trump’s administration, protesting during the national anthem, advocating for “equal pay” in women’s sports and cozying up to congressional Democrats – have drawn as much attention as her stellar athletic performances.