‘Stunned, Disappointed’ Steel Company Cancels Utah Jazz Suite as Players Kneel for Anthem

September 25, 2020 Updated: September 25, 2020

A Utah steel company has canceled its suite at the Utah Jazz’s Vivint Smart Home Arena, citing disappointment in the team for kneeling during the national anthem and donning social justice decals ahead of its games.

Utah Jazz players, coaches, and a considerable number of players in the league have opted to kneel ahead of games since the league’s July restart.

In response however, West Jordan’s SME Steel Contractors Inc. announced in a letter dated Sept. 9 that it will retract its support for its home team.

Read the full letter here.

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The Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets kneel during the national anthem during the NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Sept. 1, 2020 (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

“We have been stunned to see the entire Jazz team kneeling during the playing of our county’s [sic] national anthem,” they wrote.

“Like other fans throughout the country, SME was disappointed that the 2019-20 season was disrupted by the COVID pandemic. That disappointment pales, however, to the feelings we experienced when NBA games ‘restarted’ on what appears to be a billboard for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.”

The NBA also placed Black Lives Matter decals on the courts in Orlando, according to KSL Sports, and allowed players to choose from 29 pre-approved social justice phrases to customize on their jerseys. Phrases included “Justice Now,” “Equality,” and “Power to the People.”

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(M Outdoors/Shutterstock)

SME’s letter castigated the “odd and inappropriate” practice of NBA players adorning their jerseys with “politically divisive slogans,” claiming instead that true heroes, such as fallen U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and killed ex-NFL player-turned-soldier Pat Tillman are more deserving of a platform.

The steel company has booked a suite at the arena since 1992 and claims to have spent around $6 million on tickets and licensing fees but now wishes to retract its support for the Utah Jazz, as their values have fallen out of alignment.

A “beloved entertainment venue,” executives wrote, has been transformed into a “forum for dissemination of political propaganda.”

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SME Steel Contractors in West Jordan, Utah (Screenshot/Google Maps)

Utah residents shared their responses to the cancellation with Fox 13. Vanessa Boyer, a Utah resident from Germany, stood on the side of SME, saying the national anthem “has always been very dear to my heart, because I had to work so hard to become a citizen.”

Resident Steven Brown, however, hailed the Jazz players for lending their voices to silenced minorities. “They’ve got a platform with millions of viewers,” Brown commented, “why not use the platform you have to raise awareness and fight for equality?”

In their letter, SME acknowledged in that NBA players have the right to express their views but cannot “force paying customers to be subjected to their ostentatious acts of disrespect for our country and its values, without any consequences.”

Perhaps when the arenas are empty, SME speculated, the league will reconsider its current stance on political expression.

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