Playing the National Anthem in Arenas: Insight on the controversy of playing the National Anthem in the televised sports industry.

The National Anthem originally began as a poem written by Francis Scott Key in September of 1814, following the British bombardment
of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. During the 19th century, the poem began to gain popularity as a song set to the tune of another song entitled “To Anacreon in Heaven.” This was performed at many types of festivities such as parades, militia services, Independence Day, and many sport events. The earliest documented performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” was at a baseball game at the Union Baseball and Cricket Grounds in Brooklyn New York, on May 15, 1862. It was during the park’s opening game that the National Anthem was played, and throughout time, playing the song has become customary during the opening of most games.

During the second World War, playing the national anthem became the norm thanks to the rise in sentiment and industrial advances in terms of sound systems that enabled the National Anthem to be played without needing to hire a band. After World War II ended in 1945, the NFL’s Commissioner Elmer Layden took the initiative to make the National Anthem an absolute part of every football game. Layden declared that “We must not drop it simply because the war is over. We should never forget what it stands for”. However not all people in the sports world have agreed with this statement.

Over the years many people have disagreed with the playing of the National Anthem at sporting events. The protest over the National Anthem began in 1968 when Olympic Athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos were thrown out of the stadium in Mexico City after putting
up their fists in agreement with a black power salute as they were standing at the medal podium during the national anthem.

In 2016, another sports star protested against the national anthem. Colin Kaepernick, football player of the San Francisco 49rs and was seen kneeling during the song. Perhaps he knelt because he viewed the playing the National Anthem as a form of social injustice. The NBA has
followed suit in kneeling for the Anthem. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many NBA stars, such as Lebron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, have continued to protest against racial injustice.

On February 9th 2021, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban decided not to play the National Anthem at home games moving forward this
season. This has never been done before. The National Anthem was not played during the game and they did not play the Anthem at any of the 12 preseason and regular games before. The NBA pushed back on this and said that the National Anthem will be played during the
games, in all arenas.

Cuban was critical of those who were speaking out against kneeling for the national anthem. He tweeted, “The National Anthem Police in this country are out of control. If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why they don’t play the National Anthem every day before you start work.” (CBS News, 2021). The reason that Cuban was against the National Anthem was due to the fact that it was fueling political bias in terms of injustice and social justice.

Whether or not people are for or against playing the National Anthem during games or not during games, no matter what side of politics people are on, I think the song is important. It shows that people fought for the country during the Battle of 1812 and triumphed over
the British. People died to protect the country and live freely. Will the national anthem continue to stand as a symbol of those who fought for the United States of America or will it cease to exist as the culture calls for a stand against it?

Sources: Forbes, CBS

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