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“Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the playing of our National Anthem.”
Since I guesstimate that I have done over 4,500 sporting events in my career and probably watched just as many as a fan, these are words that I have heard and responded to more often than I could possibly have imagined.
Like any fan, I just took it for granted that prior to a game actually beginning, I would rise, along with everyone else, for the playing of our National Anthem.
But this week (and I will tell you why in a bit), I actually pondered how this tradition actually began. I found this in an article by Matt Soniak:
After America’s entrance into World War I, Major League Baseball games often featured patriotic rituals, such as players marching in formation during pregame military drills and bands playing patriotic songs. During the seventh-inning stretch of Game One of the 1918 World Series, the band erupted into “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The Cubs and Red Sox players faced the centerfield flag pole and stood at attention. The crowd, already on their feet, began to sing along and applauded at the end of the song.
Given the positive reaction, the band played the song during the next two games, and when the Series moved to Boston, the Red Sox owner brought in a band and had the song played before the start of each remaining contest. After the war (and after the song was made the national anthem in 1931), the song continued to be played at baseball games, but only on special occasions like opening day, national holidays, and World Series games.
During World War II, baseball games again became venues for large-scale displays of patriotism, and technological advances in public address systems allowed songs to be played without a band. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played before games throughout the course of the war, and by the time the war was over, the pregame singing of the national anthem had become cemented as a baseball ritual, after which it spread to other sports.
So why do I bring this up? Since the start of the NBA season, Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, ordered his team’s home games to start without playing the National Anthem. This went on for 13 games and, since there were no fans, almost no one noticed. Once it was brought to the attention of the NBA commissioner, Cuban was directed to play the anthem. He agreed.
But he made his point – “We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them. We feel their voices need to be respected and heard, because they have not been.”
New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy tweeted, “If you think the anthem needs to be played before sporting events, then play it before every movie, concert, church service and the start of every work day at every business. What good reason is there to play the anthem before a game?”
So I guess the question is should we play the National Anthem more often, less often, or continue to play it primarily at special events and all sporting events. Does it polarize, does it lose its effectiveness with constant repetition, or does it need to remind us to offer allegiance to our country?
That is for each one of us to decide individually when the public address announcer utters the words, “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise…”
ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
- The Eagles want to trade Carson Wentz and most expected that would be accomplished by now. It hasn’t. Reports are that they are asking too much in return. If he is traded, they will need a backup and, with the #6 pick in the draft, they might just take another QB, and with a pick that high, it should be a good QB to compete with Jalen Hurts. First, they must get rid of Wentz.
- Think about this – Aaron Rodgers gets a $500,000 bonus if he participates in offseason workouts. He has participated every year. Surprised?
- Remember Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner in 2007? He never could do enough to stay in the NFL, so he tried major league baseball. He’s back on the Mets spring training roster of 75 players. This is his fourth spring training where he has hit .151 and one home run. Why?
- I hope you happened to watch the Lafayette–Loyola men’s basketball game on Saturday. It went four overtimes; lasted 2 hours and fifty minutes and had some outstanding individual performances. Catch it on RCN Video on Demand.
- We will have Central Catholic at Allen for you this Friday and Lafayette-Bucknell Saturday (men) and Sunday (women). We will, also, bring the District individual wrestling championships on Sunday night. The Colonial League championship basketball games and the Districts are right around the corner.