MADISON | At no point this season is it expected the Wisconsin football team will be on the field for the national anthem. They are still in the locker room during home games at Camp Randall Stadium, and on the road, even if the other team comes out for it, the Badgers pre-game routine is to take the field afterwards.
But if given a chance, at least one player on Wisconsin’s roster would not be standing.
Sophomore safety Arrington Farrar said that he would follow the lead of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and kneel during the anthem as a way of showing his displeasure for — and bring awareness to — the way African Americans and people of color are treated in the United States.
“I feel like I’d have to do it. I’d feel terrible if I did stand,” Farrar said after practice on Wednesday.
“People are dying, man. You can’t sit there and be like, ‘This is just America.’ You can’t be OK with that. You can’t be like, ‘It’s not going to change.’ I think it’s ridiculous.
“Perfection isn’t possible, but you can chase it. That’s the only way you can get better. Just chasing perfection. Even though you know you won’t get there, you still have to chase perfection.”
Farrar made clear that any decision to kneel would not be intended as disrespect for those in the armed forces and others that lost their lives for the freedom Americans enjoy.
“I appreciate everything they do,” he said. “9/11, I think is a big deal. And if I were in the NFL, I wouldn’t have kneeled on 9/11. But any other day, you’ve got to recognize America isn’t perfect. But perfection, it’s something you’ve got to strive for.”
Farrar, who is from Atlanta and went to a prep school where the African-American population makes up about 30% of the student body, said he hasn’t been personally affected by the violence seen in Minnesota, Louisiana and Milwaukee over the summer, and again in Oklahoma and Charlotte this week.
“For me personally, none of these things are happening to me or my relatives or anything like that,” he said. “But just because it’s not my reality, doesn’t mean it’s not other people’s reality. I can’t ignore their reality just because of my personal experiences. I can’t sit there and be quiet while this happens.”
Though he didn’t have a specific number, Farrar said in the event that Wisconsin is on the field for the anthem at some point this year, he didn’t think he’d be the only player to take a knee. But added that what his teammates do or don’t do wouldn’t impact his decision.
“You can’t let your legacy be, ‘I played football really well,’” he said. “You’ve got to use your platform. You’ve got to use your voice.”
Wisconsin is one of five schools in the Big Ten that never have their players on the field for the national anthem.