Memorable Protests by Athletes Through the Years

Here are some of the most memorable protests by U.S. athletes through the years.

11 photos
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AP, Files
Colin Kaepernick, left, takes a knee during the national anthem before a football game in 2016. Tommie Smith and John Carlos, right, raise their fists as a symbol of black power during the medal ceremony of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
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AP
Extending gloved hands skyward in racial protest, U.S. athletes Tommie Smith, center, and John Carlos stare downward during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner after Smith received the gold and Carlos the bronze for the 200 meter run at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City on Oct. 16, 1968. Australian silver medalist Peter Norman is at left.
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Santi Visalli Inc./Getty Images
In this Jan. 14, 1971, file photo, boxer Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, gives a Black Power salute before entering Madison Square Garden to fight Argentinian boxer Oscar Bonavena in New York City.
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Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
In this September 1972 file photo, Kenya's Julius Sang, right, and Olympic officials, left, stand at stiff attention during the playing of the American national anthem at the awards ceremony following the men's 400-meter run. At center, the American first and second placers, Vincent Matthews (hand on hip) and Wayne Collett (barefoot, holding shoes) stand at ease and chat. Collett eventually gave a black-power salute. "I couldn't stand there and sing the words because I don't believe they're true," Collett was later quoted as saying. The pair were barred from competition after the display.
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Bettmann Archive via Getty Images
In this Sept. 20, 1973, file photo, Billie Jean King plays a match against Bobby Riggs, (not pictured) in the "Battle of the Sexes" in the Houston Astrodome. In 1970, King along with eight other female tennis players formed their own tennis tour in protest of inequities in prize money and bonuses at tournaments where men got more than 10 times what women earned. King said beating Riggs helped open the doors for women tennis players. Later that year, King formed the Women's Tennis Association.
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AP/Michael S. Green
In this March 15, 1996, file photo, Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf stands with his teammates and prays during the national anthem before the game with the Chicago Bulls. Abdul-Rauf, who said the U.S. flag was a symbol of "oppression and tyranny," was suspended earlier that week for sitting down during the national anthem. This photo was from Abdul-Rauf's first game back.
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Joe Traver/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
In this April 1994 file photo, Toronto Blue Jays Carlos Delgado sits in the dugout with teammates during a game. Delgado did not stand for the U.S. national anthem in 2004 because he was against the U.S. war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Delgado went on to play for the New York Mets and shortly retired his baseball career after a few years.
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AP/Kathy Willens
In this Dec. 8, 2014, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center in New York. Dozens of athletes responded to confrontations between authorities and black citizens in Ferguson, Mo., New York and elsewhere by wearing T-shirts bearing such statements as "I Can't Breathe" and "Hands Up, Don't Shoot!"
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Getty Images
In this Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
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AP Photo/John Bazemore
USA's Megan Rapinoe, right, kneels next to teammates Christen Press (12), Ali Krieger (11), Crystal Dunn (16) and Ashlyn Harris (22) as the US national anthem is played before an exhibition soccer match against Netherlands Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Atlanta. "I have chosen to kneel because I simply cannot stand for the kind of oppression this country is allowing against its own people," she wrote, before the U.S. women's national soccer team changed its policy to prevent the practice.
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Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images
In this Sept. 21, 2016, file photo, the Indiana Fever kneel during the national anthem before the game against the Phoenix Mercury during round one of the 2016 WNBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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