Rethinking the pregame anthem

Colin Kaepernick is there somewhere, in the attitude of protest. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Colin Kaepernick is there somewhere, in the attitude of protest. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

So, now, the national anthem is a part of the game story.

Who stood? Who could spare two minutes to show at least token respect to those who consider the Star Spangled Banner a hymn to pride and sacrifice and national identity? Otherwise known as the paying customers.

Who didn’t? Who has taken a seat or a knee, attaching themselves to Colin Kaepernick’s passive dissent, hitchhikers on the controversy of the moment?

Who cares?

The day I look to celebrities to shape my political views or athletes to get in touch with my social conscience is when I officially have given up the inconvenience of independent thought.

We have come to watch a game and a referendum on America’s ideals and shortcomings has erupted. A backup quarterback has taken a knee, awaiting the rapture of the perfect society, and has “sparked a national discussion.”

Which is a major distraction for those who want to witness nothing more than some good news for their fantasy teams.

Historians say the anthem made its sporting debut during the seventh-inning stretch of Game One of the 1918 World Series, and was, against the backdrop of WWI, so enthusiastically embraced that it eventually was moved up to the pregame part of the program.

The tune does seem to hit the right note in times of great national stress. And with the NFL’s first Sunday falling on September 11, it once more will beckon the crowd to stand and remember. As for those who don’t, they have decided to ignore the common loss and bravery this day represents, just as the national anthem on this of all days represents more than a nod to one of our B-list wars.

We don’t perform this ritual before any of our other entertainments and diversions. We aren’t invited to stand in the theater and sing the anthem in advance of the coming attractions. Nor rise and profess our patriotism before the appetizer arrives. But for certain sporting events, it is deemed essential, connecting the triviality of games to the importance of being an American.

But is it really so essential?

I wonder how much we would miss it if it went away. If they just set off some pyrotechnics, flipped a coin and played the game.

Truth be told, the national anthem is a song most of us don’t give much of a voice to when it is played. One that is impossible to sing well for those not classically trained. You belt it out only at the risk of sounding like an alley cat in labor to the poor soul standing next to you.

And now it is a vehicle of protest?

Wednesday, the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League altered the pregame routine in order to play the anthem before the teams took the field. Megan Rapinoe of the visiting Seattle Reign previously had taken up the cause and knelt on the sideline during the anthem. The Spirit neatly circumvented her protest.

(A little pause here while I Google Megan Rapinoe).

Women’s soccer of all sports may have provided the answer to this controversy. So, if it must be played, play the anthem for the fans while the players are penned up, out of sight, in their locker room or clubhouse.

That way none of them have to betray their convictions. And none of us have to concern ourselves with the beliefs of the entertainers.

Reader Comments 0

15 comments
DawgDadII
DawgDadII

The players electing to protest during the National Anthem are being intentionally disrespectful and taking advantage of broadcast media exposure that is not being provided for this purpose.

If the trend of politicizing sports broadcasts and the sports sections of the media continues you will find a lot of people checking out. Personally, I've about had it with the AJC anyway. Other things to do with my money than PAYING to be offended and disrespected.

tyger
tyger

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

So Hummer,  you're offering elimination of the SSB at sporting events because of the discomfort  some may cause when they choose to sit or kneel in protest?  


Like they say, I think you've invented a solution without a problem.  

Let folks protest.   As long as it's a respectful protest and doesn't infringe on the rights of those of us who wish to stand - and we don't infringe on their right to peaceful protest, leave it alone.  Don't change a thing.


This suggestion sounds like yet one more example of eliminating thought or deed  that might cause umbrage to anyone.   So lets make the ball park/arena a safe space so as not to offend any party inclined to be offended by either tribute or protest. 


I think that's the absolute worst way to respond.









OskarMatzerath
OskarMatzerath

You should realize that Kaepernick sitting also gives meaning to the standing everyone else does - If everyone does it out of habit or fear of retribution, standing for the anthem is no more meaningful than 'have a nice day'.


And while we're at it, I absolutely hate it when someone turns our flag into into a shirt or ballcap or shoes, or worst of all, swimming trunks.  


I am a veteran and I love this country, so I would rather see someone burn Old Glory than sit on it to show his 'patriotism'.  At least the burning shows thought and respect for it as a symbol. 

Drexel-Gal
Drexel-Gal

Non-US citizens who have played major league sports in the US (such as, Hakeem in the NBA) stood during the anthem, out of respect for the "host" nation.  Regardless of one's attitudes, they should be able to do that, ate least.  Failing that, perhaps the TV networks should, during the anthem, display the images of those players who do not stand.  If they want the attention, give it to them, and let them face the consequences.

HotDawg
HotDawg

As an employer, I would tell him and any other employees that feel his way, to stay in the locker room/off the field during the ceremony.

He's got rights and so do employers at a place of WORK.

Want to protest, go cry in front of a police station.

Ryan Mclean
Ryan Mclean

we need less spoiled entitled hypocritical 20 something year olds

David Gruneisen
David Gruneisen

Freedom of speech is one of the most important things for which America stands. Requiring people to stand for a national song is what North Korea and Iran does - not America.

SebGuy
SebGuy

If you are offended by peaceful protest then you are a part of the problem. I too wish this was not a thing put the bigots have now caused this to remain in the news rather than go away.


Oh, by the way-if you are more offended by Kaepernick than what he is protesting, then you deserve to be offended and much more. Government must never be allowed to kill people without due process of the law, but you patriots just do not seem to care much, or write snippy columns when it does. Once you allow the government to execute at will, it will not stop at just killing the people you do not like or wish to be killed. Eventually it will come for all those that do not serve it. Didn't we fight wars against governments like that?



HowdyJune
HowdyJune

This was a really dumb thing to do.  It is not a question of his right to do it - it is a question of his wisdom to choose this specific way to express his issue.  He is not going to win this.  Public opinion is very powerful and it will ultimately be the public who decides whether he was wise or not so wise.  He chose not to respect those veterans who were being honored at this game and they have given so much for all of us, including him.  For all of its faults, this United States is far better than any other nation on this planet.  If he doesn't like it here, then he is always free to choose another.  I would urge this young man to cut his losses, apologize, stand for our National Anthem, and get on with a better life.

Sir Colin The Pampered, Peace Be Upon Him,  has decided to show his disdain for our flag and anthem. We, the consumer of his work product, already have disdain for the childish prancing after every play and the lack of self control of so many of the NFL players. Continue to rub the consumers raw and we may just seek another choice of entertainment.

Philip Nipper
Philip Nipper

Seems like I've read or heard that the national anthem before sporting events tradition started during WWII

Joel Shipp
Joel Shipp

I'm standing for the pledge, if someone else wants to sit on his or her duff, it's none of my business. But I'm gonna stand...

Edward David Prine
Edward David Prine

I think it's 2:40 that we come together as a country even with our country's faults

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Players have the "right" to protest.  If I am your employer when you choose to protest, I have the right to choose to assign you something else to do during that time.  And I, as a consumer of the entertainment you provide, have the right to discontinue my support of the team.


We live in the greatest country, overall, in the world.  There is more opportunity here than anywhere else.  Are there injustices?  Absolutely. And, when I see them and if I wish, I can work actively to address them. None of this silly "protest," however.  I am called upon to recognize the incredible good fortune I have to live here, and to be thankful.