Tampa Bay Lightning right wing J.T. Brown raised his right fist during the singing of the national anthem prior to the Lightning’s game against the Florida Panthers on Saturday. In doing so, Brown became the first NHL player to join similar protests displayed by Colin Kaepernick, hundreds of NFL players, various WNBA players, MLS star Megan Rapinoe, and others.
The usual ignorant trolls gave the expected reactions upon seeing Brown’s gesture.
@TBLightning Ppl pay good $$$ to get away from all this BS shouldn't be subjected to it. Do it on your own time! Do something productive!— noel (@Gta4Noel) October 8, 2017
Would he raise a fist to bring awareness to black on black crime?🤔— ssm1234 (@langton_michael) October 8, 2017
Liberals ruining another sport with their whiny fake oppressed agenda— Marty Griffin (@MyNameIsMartG) October 8, 2017
Such protests are credited to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who sat and later kneeled during the national anthem during the 2016 season. When asked for his rationale, Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Kaepernick remains an unsigned free agent after opting out of his contract with the 49ers, but other players have continued to similarly kneel or raise a fist.
Members of the Black Panther Party initially adopted the raising of a clenched fist in solidarity in the ’60s. It gained notoriety in the sports world during the 1968 Olympic Games when Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised clenched fists during the medal ceremony after medaling in the men’s 200 meters. Smith, Carlos and Australian sprinter Peter Norman agitated on behalf of the Olympic Project for Human Rights—an organization opposed to racism in the sports world.
The Lightning lost Saturday’s game to Florida with a score of 5-4, and team officials later issued a statement regarding Brown’s gesture.
“The Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate the moment before every game when we can unite as a community, paying homage to a flag that is representative of our nation and those who have sacrificed,” the statement read. “At the same time, we respect our players and individual choices they may make on social and political issues.”
When asked about his form of protest after the game, Brown showed no regrets.
"I know there’s going to be negative backlash," Brown told a group of assembled reporters after the game. "But, in my heart, I know I did what was right."
He also later revealed that he was the recipient of death threats due to his protest in a long post he put up on Twitter.