Amidst the heated contest between LSU and Iowa in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, a controversy brewed off the court. As Iowa emerged victorious once more, the spotlight shifted to LSU’s absence during the National Anthem, igniting a firestorm of conservative criticism.

Viewers took to social media, incensed by the sight of the Iowa team standing proudly while LSU was notably absent. Conservative commentator Benny Johnson’s scathing remark encapsulated the sentiment: “LSU Women’s Basketball Team skipped the National Anthem… Let this be a lesson: the cringy, selfish woke athlete moment is OVER.”

In response to the backlash, LSU’s coach, Kim Mulkey, offered an explanation, stating, “Honestly, I don’t even know when the anthem was played…” Mulkey emphasized the team’s pre-game routine, which entails leaving the court before the anthem commences. Sports reporter Chesa Bouche confirmed this practice, further fueling the controversy.

Critics found Mulkey’s rationale unsatisfactory, questioning the morality of perpetually missing the anthem due to a predetermined routine. One commenter scornfully remarked, “I don’t even know what time the anthem is played?!!! That’s supposed to be better? Wow.”

Others echoed similar sentiments, condemning LSU’s habitual absence during the anthem. Amidst the clamor, calls for repercussions grew louder, with one commenter advocating for the revocation of federal aid from institutions condoning such practices.

Amidst the uproar, a voice of moderation emerged, recounting a different sporting tradition where players, although absent during the anthem, were instructed to observe a moment of respect. This nuanced perspective highlighted the complexity of the issue.

Contrastingly, the Iowa team stood unified on the court, showcasing a stark juxtaposition to LSU’s absence. The incident underscored deeper societal divisions and ignited debates surrounding patriotism and respect.

As the tournament fervor continues, the fallout from LSU’s anthem controversy serves as a poignant reminder of the cultural fault lines that permeate even the realm of sports.