“The Star-Spangled Banner” was originally written in 1814 following the War of 1812. More than a century later, President Woodrow Willson and the US Congress adopted a law that made “The Star-Spangled Banner” our nation’s anthem.
The national anthem began playing before sporting events dating back to the early 1900s. For example, when the Boston Red Sox took the field against the Chicago Cubs in the 1918 World Series, the national anthem was played prior to the start of the seven-game series. This, of course, took place after World War I.
Later, the NFL adopted the national anthem in their 1941-1942 season due to the start of World War II.
Following the Vietnam War in 1975, the national anthem was played before all major sporting events in the US.
My experience with the national anthem began at Bethany Christian High School. Bethany is a private school, which means that it does not get funding from the state; therefore, we were not required to play the anthem.
I forgot the national anthem was played before other schools’ sporting events. I played soccer throughout middle school and high school and it was not something I needed to think about before the game. I was focused on warming up, hyping up my teammates and getting some touches on the ball.
Right before the game started, the starting lineups would take place on the field. Once all of the names were announced, we huddled up as a team, said our last motivating remarks and went to our starting positions. That was all I needed to think about before playing soccer.
Now, as a student at Goshen College, I have been able to see the anthem from a different perspective. GC is also a private institution. However, in 2011, the decision was made to play “America the Beautiful” instead of the national anthem, before select sporting events.
This topic continues to be challenged. In recent news, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, stated that the basketball team would not be playing the national anthem prior to their home games because members of the community felt like they were not being represented.
“In listening to the community, there were quite a few people who voiced their concerns, really their fears, that the national anthem did not fully represent them, that their voices were not being heard,” Cuban said.
“We didn’t cancel the national anthem. We still had our flag flying proudly up on the wall at the American Airlines Center and everybody had the opportunity to address it and pray to it or salute to it or whatever their feelings are.”
The NBA responded to Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks, stating, “All teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy.”
If you step back and think about it, though, the idea that a sports team is required to honor the country is actually very strange. We do not listen to the national anthem at other large cultural events like movies, concerts and church, so why sporting events?
Some people’s opinions about this topic are not going to be changed, and I am not saying that we need to get rid of the national anthem altogether. I just want us to rethink when and why we play it.