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Kent State basketball players invite fans on the court for unified national anthem

Kent State basketball players were joined by fans on the court during the national anthem on Wednesday. The players went into the crowd to invite fans to join them for the anthem in a display of unity. It began as an idea by senior guard Deon Edwin.

"It was a special moment," Edwin said, via ESPN. "We all come together as one. It wasn't about color of skin. If we can do that at a small school, everyone can do it."

Edwin says the team plans to continue the display for every home game. Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff said Edwin pitched him the idea and the team agreed with it.

"They wanted to make it clear that this was a statement, and not a protest -- something that hopefully can help bring about change,” Senderoff said.

Inviting the fans on the court was done to show that the entire community is united, not just the team.

"We understand all of the issues going on in our world," guard Jalen Avery said, via Kent State. "In these times, we felt it was important to show a sign of unity in our community."

Kent State is part of a long list of college and professional sports teams that have joined in either a protest or display of unity during the national anthem. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to do so when he began kneeling during the national anthem. NFL teams like the Seattle Seahawks have showed unity by standing arm-in-arm during the anthem. The Indiana Fever of the WNBA locked arms while also taking a knee. Several NBA teams have participated in similar displays, with the Knicks and Rockets even locking arms together while standing for the anthem.

Kent State is unique in asking fans from the stands to join the team in a unified display. Edwin is hopeful other teams will soon join in similar displays.

"Everyone watches college sports,” Edwin said. “If people see it happen, maybe they'll do it. Then maybe the pros will do it also. It's something we can all do together."