PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Three weeks after she last performed the national anthem at a Portland Timbers game, Madison Shanley says she is done singing at Providence Park until changes are made in the team’s front office.
Shanley performed the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the Timbers match against LAFC on April 3rd, wearing a red shirt with the words, “You Knew” written boldly across the front. It was in direct reference to the way Shanley feels leadership for the Timbers and Thorns handled two separate incidents of abuse of women by club employees. Specifically, the cases of former Portland Thorns coach Paul Riley and former Timbers player Andy Polo.
In the days after that April 3rd match, a picture of Shanley was widely circulated on social media. She sat down with KOIN.com reporter Gabby Urenda on April 7 to explain why she chose to wear the statement on her shirt.
“When I started hearing about the allegations that had been made, and the mismanagement of the front office with these said allegations, I was heartbroken,” Shanley said.
Shanley says she is also a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault. Like a lot of Timbers and Thorns fans, she has criticized the club leadership for the way she believes the cases were mishandled.
“You knew — yet didn’t protect the players, the women involved in making the reports,” Shanley said in the first KOIN.com report.
Two weeks later, on Thursday, April 14, Shanley tweeted she had met with representatives from the organization and that she had made the choice to not return to singing the anthem before Timbers and Thorns games until changes are made.
“I can confidently say that I won’t be returning to Providence Park at all, even likely as a spectator, with Merritt Paulson as an owner of the team, with [General Manager] Gavin Wilkinson in his seat and Mike Golub as COO,” Shanley said. “For lack of a better term, I think you need to cut the rot for serious change to happen.”
Shanley said the meeting with representatives from the team included Golub, a Public Relations representative, a person from the legal department and a representative from Human Resources that Shanley requested be in attendance.
Shanley said she brought three supporters with her to the meeting.
“They were very inviting, but it was in a boardroom setting,” Shanley said. “I was sitting across the table from Mike Golub and it was mostly him and me having a conversation. He was very kind, very complimentary of the research and the preparedness and how articulate I was about my thoughts and ideas. I hope that was all in earnest.”
Shanley says she was not provided an opportunity to meet with either Paulson or Wilkinson. She also admits she didn’t ask.
“I wish I would’ve requested to. For some reason I assumed that Merrit Paulson or Gavin Wilkinson would be there,” she said. “When I heard that there was an opportunity to speak with front office members, I assumed that there would be those two or three there — but, when it was just Mike, I was a bit surprised.”
Shanley says taking the stand she has taken, and the media attention that followed has led to some unexpected results including being featured in an ESPN article about wearing the “You Knew” shirt, and a new shirt being designed and sold with a quote of hers on it.
“I did not think I would end up here,” she said. “I saw that someone created a new shirt and I asked that 100% of the proceeds get donated to Rose Haven PDX. And that’s benefiting women and people who identify as women and minority populations in Portland. So, that’s a wonderful thing.”
Three weeks later Shanley stands by her choice to wear the shirt and, now, she stands by her decision to stop singing at games. But, she says it hurts.
“I love singing for that crowd,” she said. “It’s really hard for me to walk away from that community. I started singing in 2009. I was a young girl and there are a lot of relationships that I have with that crowd and the feelings that it gives me. It’s been really emotional having to make this decision, having to walk away from it.
“The right choices are often the hardest ones to make.”