When the NWSL Challenge Cup got underway this past weekend, one of the lasting images was an emotional embrace between Chicago Red Stars teammates Julie Ertz and Casey Short. The moment came as the players took a knee during the national anthem.
On Tuesday, Ertz and Short released a joint statement in which they touched on the concept of unity and the thoughts that they've had in recent days.
"What has followed have been hard conversations," Ertz and Short said. "These conversations have been emotional, they've been honest, and they've allowed us to be vulnerable with each other during this time. And honestly, we still need to have many, many more.
"The two of us have always set out to be our honest and true selves but we have struggled to find the 'right' thing to do in order to show our truth. We understand people are entitled to their opinions. Often these opinions are presented through the individuals lens and do not accurately portray how the two of us truly feel."
Players on both teams wore "Black Lives Matter" shirts as a show of support the movement. This comes after the murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer in May.
After many players took a knee during the national anthem, the NSWL released a statement in which the league expressed how "proud" it was of its players. In addition, the league announced that it as revising a policy for the national anthem throughout the 2020 Challenge Cup. Players now have the option of remaining in the locker room during the national anthem if they choose.
Ertz and Short went on to say that players need to have "empathy" for one another in the wake of recent events:
"For the past few weeks, we have shared our stories, we have shared a deep empathy towards one another and ultimately, a common sense of hopelessness," Ertz and Short added. "This moment of hopelessness was overwhelming for many reasons including, frustration in not having a clear answer for change, the hurt in each other's voices, and our black teammates and friends who have emotionally poured out every ounce of their hearts to us. All of these intense and emotional moments have been difficult but ultimately very necessary.
"Our thought process is evolving daily. Where the pain is, our empathy goes. The emotion we feel is responsibility and we want to find our place in the cure together. We will be the change. PERIOD."