Archive for September, 2016

Sports and the National Anthem

September 25, 2016
I’ve wondered for a long time why the national anthem should be played before for-profit entertainment venues. Would it be appropriate for every used-car dealer to announce his sale by playing the Star-Spangled Banner?
Are the two not essentially the same?
So should fake-patriotism somehow cloak the cheating that is rampant in professional sports? Consider only the NFL and the NBA, but if you’re familiar with the NHL I’m sure you’ve seen it there too. It’s not about sportsmanship, it’s about winning. Cheat? Penalty, free throws, time in the penalty box, 15 yards. Those are commonplace, so commonplace that no one even mentions that it runs counter to sportsmanship. The violations are deliberate for the most part.
So we allow our national anthem to be used to promote cheating?
And areĀ  college games any less of a commercial enterprise? Are college athletics about sportsmanship, or winning?
You might make a case for playing the anthem before high school games, but too often those also fail to teach sportsmanship. They’re about winning, whatever the cost.
Now we’re seeing the national anthem being used as a venue for protesting the disgraceful state of our country, the racism, the divisions, the do nothing Congress, exploitation of the poor by the wealthiest. All those things are part of the resentment that fueled the protests several years ago. People then ‘occupied’ sidewalks, disrupted traffic, walked in public.
Now protesters have taken a different tactic, refusing to stand for the national anthem.
Protests are a public right. You’re not supposed to like them; they’re supposed to make you think.
So will the nation make a concerted effort to become what our founding documents claim we would be about?
Or should sports be about sport, not use the anthem to paper over the failures in sportsmanship with fake patriotism?
Should we ban playing the national anthem before sporting events?