• author
    • Kelvin Wade

    • May 24, 2018 in Columnists

    Just scrap the friggin’ anthem before games

    So the NFL owners, terrified that Trump would send a mean tweet their way or that MAGA hat wearing fans would turn the channel from football to NASCAR, decided to capitulate and sell out their players by banning kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. Players will be allowed to remain in the locker room during the anthem if they so choose. If players do kneel, then teams can fine or discipline them and the NFL will fine the team.

    So far, New York Jets owner Christopher Johnson is the only owner with the balls to say that he will not fine any of his players that kneel and will pay all fines for them from the league. He’d prefer that they stand but isn’t about to come down on people peaceably protesting.

    I get it. The NFL is a business. It’s a shady, tax-exempt, testosterone-fueled, physically exploitative business that uses up world class athletes and leaves them brain damaged. But it’s a business nonetheless. So if they want to force their players into some faux patriotic position during the playing of the anthem they can do that. They can control what players wear, what they say to referees and the media. Owners aren’t infringing on free speech rights by limiting protest.

    That’s Donald Trump you’re thinking about. When Donald Trump talks about how people can or can’t protest then yes, that’s screwing with the First Amendment because the amendment was put in place to limit the government from doing just that.

    Some snowflakes offended seeing black men silently protesting say they don’t want politics injected into sports. These fragile beings watch sports to escape politics. Well, if you’re trying to escape politics then why are we even playing the goddamn anthem? Turning a sporting event into a compulsory loyalty pledge when people really just want to eat food that’s bad for them, drink booze and cheer on their team is the thing that’s politicizing sporting events.

    Why are we even playing the national anthem before football games? I mean, yes, it’s only been since 2009 that the NFL has had players stand on the sidelines during the playing of the anthem. But why play the anthem at all? I can understand playing the anthems of various nations in the Olympics. But we know we’re in America. We’re just about to watch grown men play a game so why are we invoking a flag and Francis Scott Key’s creaky old ditty?

    We don’t play the national anthem before the President delivers the State of the Union. We don’t play the national anthem when Congress convenes. It’s not playing on Election Day when we walk into the polling booth. City, county and state governments don’t play the national anthem before their sessions. All of these events seem like more likely times to play that national anthem than before a company’s sporting event.

    When I was a kid and my brothers and I would go to the movies on military bases the movie was always preceded by the national anthem. The audience would rise for the anthem and then sit and watch the movie. They may still do that at military base theaters.

    I don’t have a problem with them doing it, after all it is a government facility on a government military base. But the NFL doing it before a game played by overpaid men while underpaid, scantily-clad cheerleaders are ogled by a belligerent, well-lubricated crowd seems trite.

    Yes, there’s tradition. The surprising history is that the Star Spangled Banner became a tradition at baseball games during World War l, even before Congress officially made the song our national anthem! So one could say that the anthem was wedded to sports even before it was officially wedded to the nation.

    But the tradition isn’t so long in the NFL. If you must play the anthem, why not just go back to pre-2009 and play it while the teams are still in the locker room? Problem solved. Teams have more time to prepare and no snowflakes have to risk being offended by seeing someone kneel.

    If you’ve been in an NFL stadium during the anthem, you know that everyone isn’t standing, facing the flag with their hand over their heart enraptured by thoughts of Fort McHenry under bombardment from the British. Some are at attention. Others are sitting or swilling beer or eating or heading to the bathroom. Some are talking, joking and laughing. If one looks around there are plenty of things to be way more offended by than a negro on the field taking a knee.

    Scrap the anthem before the game. This isn’t a government function. Let every team play their own song. I’m cool with Ice Cube’s “Come and Get It” at Raider games. Or just play Hank Williams Jr’s “Are You Ready for Some Football?” and play the damn game.

    Just imagine where we’d be as a society if we spent half the time on police brutality, discrimination and race relations, the topics being protested by kneeling players, as we’ve spent on this bullshit anthem issue? Oh say can you see that?

      • Maya Spier Stiles North

      • May 28, 2018 at 7:54 pm
      • Reply

      Frankly, the Star Spangled Banner is a complete embarrassment. This line alone should be enough, but we’re in Trump’s world now. I am ashamed and furious.

      “No refuge could save the hireling and slave
      From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,”

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