Former U.S. women's national team forward Carli Lloyd said she "had enough of kneeling right before the game" when she opted not to kneel with her teammates before the side's bronze medal match at the pandemic-delayed Olympics in Tokyo, and would "probably" make the same decision again.
Lloyd's comments came during the second part of her interview on Kickin' It, a new weekly show on CBS Sports Golazo Network, hosted by Kate Abdo, Charlie Davies, Maurice Edu, and Clint Dempsey, and continues a streak of unapologetic comments from the player-turned-broadcaster.
Lloyd was prompted by Abdo to address the choice not to join her teammates in the symbolic anti-racism gesture for that particular match. despite the fact that she had kneeled throughout the tournament and on several occasions in the build-up. She denied that her choice had anything to do with the national anthem, since the kneeling took place a few seconds before kickoff rather than during the anthem, but rather because she grew apathetic toward the move.
"We had done it every game and I knew that that was going to be my last world championship game so I wanted to stand. I'd kneeled all the other times," she said. "I just felt like I had done it five other times and I just wanted to stand for this one. That was it. There was no other thought or anything."
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Abdo then asked Lloyd if she felt her decision to stand on that occasion sent a message to onlookers, and despite her previous attempts to downplay her thought process, she seemed to acknowledge the impact it had.
"I'm sure, because I was the only one standing and everybody else was kneeling," Lloyd said. "I just thought that we had done enough of the kneeling and I just wanted to stand in my last world championship game. … In that moment, I just had enough of kneeling right before the game because we had done it for a whole year or so leading up."
Lloyd said she did not necessarily disapprove of the anti-racism gesture, and argued that people were reading too much into her choice not to kneel that day.
"I think people maybe look into things too much," she said. "You're asking me, 'What was your reason?' I kneeled five other times and my last game, I was just honed in. I wanted a medal. I wanted to just focus on that."
That sentiment reflects the way Lloyd felt after Megan Rapinoe initially kneeled for the anthem in 2016, shortly after NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick became the first to do so. Lloyd described Rapinoe's choice as a distraction to the USWNT, and said she acted as an intermediary at times while serving as a team captain.
"At that time, obviously there wasn't a lot of other people that were doing that besides Colin Kaepernick and Megan Rapinoe decided to do that and I had conversations with Megan," she said. "This isn't a personal thing. What she's doing, it was distracting to our team. It was distracting other players to play, and I was a captain at the time as well so I said to her, 'It's not to dampen what you're trying to achieve with it.' It became [that] everything was focused on Megan kneeling and nobody was talking about the reasoning why, is what I was trying to get at. … We were all just getting tired of, we're all just talking about her kneeling on the sideline."
'It dampened the situation'
The Kickin' It hosts had a chance to respond to Lloyd's version of events during the episode, with Edu describing how her choice not to kneel left him disappointed in the moment.
"When I saw it happen in the moment, because I know what kind of impact you carry, what kind of following you have … I almost felt like it dampened the situation, you know? Or it kind of just felt like a slight, in a way, which I know was not your intention," he said. "I know where you stand on a few different issues, but just in that moment, I remember watching it and thinking, 'The hell?'"
Lloyd said she respected Edu's comment before the interview wrapped, though once she left, the hosts debriefed after a lengthy interview. They focused on the impact of Lloyd's decision not to kneel, which received a lot of attention, particularly from conservative-leaning media in the United States and "almost felt like it empowered this group that felt like, 'Yeah, we don't take a knee because we don't support that cause,'" per Abdo.
Davies said he "got a crystal clear message from her" as to why she opted out of kneeling, but remained disappointed in her stance.
"I was just thinking to myself, if you knew that you not taking a knee because you felt like you were tired and had already done it for a month or two months and it was her last game, the messaging from that was far more valuable for the people that disagree with change in the world, would you still do it even though you personally don't want to do a knee?," he asked. "Because think about the people who are oppressed and have to deal with certain issues throughout there whole lifetime. There's generations of this, and you don't want to take a knee?"
Edu doubled down on his earlier comments and argued the impact she would have had by continuing to kneel would have been a meaningful one.
"I think her doing it one more time would've had a bigger impact in a way that I would've felt would've been more positive and constructive than the other," he said.
"What is 10 seconds of your life to kneel down to show that you're together with some of your fellow teammates, or just in general, just supporting a group of people that are marginalized every day of their life?," he added. "I think that's why I was disappointed."