Athletes and students weigh in on CU’s hands-off policy regarding national anthem participation

Patriotic opening ceremony prior to Colorado vs. Arizona. Oct. 7, 2017. (Max Sassaman/CU Independent)

When walking around campus at the University of Colorado Boulder, I was surprised to hear that many students forgot about their football team’s absence during the playing of the national anthem.

In recent months and years, the national anthem has received much attention, largely thanks to the rituals of athletes from across the country during the ceremony.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the impetus of this discussion two years ago when he sat during the playing of the anthem in a preseason NFL game to protest racial inequality and police brutality towards people of color.

Thanks to Kaepernick’s national anthem protests, Quinnipiac University conducted a poll in Oct. of 2016 showing a 63 percent disapproval of the protests amongst white adults and a 74 percent approval among black adults.

At CU Boulder, there are policies in place and different perspectives on the matter.

Their athletic teams each treat the national anthem differently. Both the football and basketball teams are predominantly black, yet the football team stays in the locker room for the anthem, while the basketball team is on the floor for the anthem.

The women’s basketball, soccer and lacrosse teams do take part in the national anthem.

“There is no official department policy on having to stand for the national anthem,” said athletic director Rick George. “It is left up to each program, and it’s different for every team.  There is no anthem played at many events.”

So, where does the general student body at CU stand in regards to all of this? Are students in Boulder disturbed by these policies and were they off put by Kaepernick’s initial protests?

As a general statement, no, but it depends on who you ask.

In interviews with 50 random students on campus at CU, 88 percent of those students said that they condoned the actions of Kaepernick and 82 percent of them aren’t concerned with the CU football team not taking part in the national anthem.

The antithesis however, is present.

Junior lacrosse forward Sophia Castillo, 21, finds that the national anthem should mean more to student-athletes.

“I do find it a little odd that the football team doesn’t come out for the anthem,” she said. “I think it’s a great way to honor America and the sport we love so personally. I think it’d be a good thing for them to come out and show respect with all their fans and I’m surprised.”

For Castillo, it’s become a routine for herself and her teammates throughout the years to honor our country.

“Ever since high school it’s been part of our game routine to honor the flag before our game and it feels right doing it,” Castillo said. “I think I can speak for my whole team when I say we wouldn’t want to change doing the national anthem before we take the field.”

On a campus that poses a liberal majority, student-athletes like Castillo are a minority.

A poll conducted on campus at CU found a lack of concern regarding the football team’s lack of participation in the singing of the national anthem. (Drew Sharek/CU Independent)


Out of 50 students polled and asked about the actions of former 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, only 12 percent did not condone his actions. (Drew Sharek/CU Independent(

Senior football defensive back Nick Fisher, 20, shared his perspective on the team not coming onto the field for the ceremony.

“I’ve never thought about it,” he said. “We just go through our pre-game rituals inside our locker room and then we have our meeting before. It’s nothing we really worry about.”

While football head coach Mike MacIntyre hasn’t put the anthem first, Fisher believes that MacIntrye would be open-minded for those who want to participate in it.

“[MacIntrye] has never made it a priority to come out for the anthem,” Fisher said. “He lets us get ready in the locker room. I feel like if we wanted to go out there, he would let us go out there. No one looks at it as a bad thing because it’s what we’ve always done.”

Although the campus and the city of Boulder are looked at as a liberal region of Colorado, there are differing views on campus about our national anthem and how it should be treated at sporting events.

What might transpire if those who feel the anthem should be respected create tension on programs to come out for the anthem? And who might realize that if one team isn’t on the field for the anthem, then why should another team do the same?

These are questions that could be answered in the future, but the university has a fair representation on both sides of the argument.

The policies let each team express their opinions, but will one side or the other override these policies?

Only time could tell, for the land of the free, and the home of the Buffaloes.

Contact CU Independent sports staff writer Drew Sharek at and follow him on Twitter @drew_sharek

Drew Sharek

Drew is a contributing reporter, covering the Colorado Buffaloes' football and basketball teams. He appears on the Pick 6 podcast every Tuesday and previously covered the Buffs for BSN Denver.

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed