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ATLANTA - Before Alabama and Georgia played the NCAA Football National Championship game, the Zac Brown Band took the field to sing the national anthem. They were joined on the field by President Donald Trump, who attended the game.
President Trump singing along to the national anthem here in Atlanta pic.twitter.com/QnycDboTK7— Monica Alba (@albamonica) January 9, 2018
However, some were quick to point out some notable absences on the sidelines: both teams.
Players for Alabama and Georgia were nowhere to be seen as the anthem was played, prompting some to wonder if they’d been kept in the locker rooms to avoid an unsightly protest in front of Trump.
The Trump administration has made national anthem protests in the NFL an intense focus point in the first year in office, with Vice President Mike Pence attending a Colts game in October only to leave as players protested during the national anthem. At the time, Pence said, “I left today’s Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag, or our national anthem.”
The walkout — which the administration denies was planned — reportedly cost taxpayers $242,000.
But there was to be no walking out for any players at the NCAA National Championship game. Unlike the NFL, almost no college football teams take the field until after the national anthem, according to The Associated Press.
In all, eight of the 14 schools in the Big Ten are on the field for the national anthem. In the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), just two teams take the field. And no teams in the Big 12, PAC-12, or Southeastern Conference (SEC) are on field for the national anthem.
“Most schools are wise enough not to play the national anthem while players are on the field,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder told the AP at the time, adding, “I concur with that.”