Thinking About What Really Matters

Jessica Steil

Tuesday was a great day for a baseball game. The sun was shining on the Leafs as they warmed up. A crisp U.S. flag flapped in the wind. And the stands were packed full, the fans waiting in anticipation. If you’d looked over to the softball diamond you would have seen a similar sight. Even President Jim Brenneman and other administrative faculty showed up.

Three innings later, the stands were nearly empty.

Tuesday was the first playing of the national anthem at Goshen College, played at both the baseball game and the softball game. Crowds turned out to hear the playing of an instrumental version of The Star Spangled Banner. But when it was over, they were quick to leave. Even Jim Brenneman only hung around for a few innings of the softball game before taking his exit. Meanwhile both the baseball and softball teams continued playing, without many fans to cheer them on.

But they should be used to that by now, right?

I am disappointed in my college today. I am disappointed in the administration for making a decision that has divided the campus and turned its back on a long held tradition. I am disappointed in the students for not making their voices known and taking a chance to change things until it was too late. But most of all, I am disappointed with both students and administration alike for investing so much energy into a song (and let’s face it, it really is just a song), but investing little to no energy in supporting the student-athletes out there, pouring themselves into a sport they love so much.

Last time I checked, baseball was never really about the national anthem. It wasn’t about who would stand and who wouldn’t. It was about a game. It was about how many batters the pitcher could strike out and how many runs were scored. It was about when the left fielder made an amazing catch or the homer that won the game. But most of all and above all, it is about the athletes, our peers and classmates, who are out there competing. Our peers and classmates, who would love to have stands full of people cheering for them. Our peers and classmates who would love to have people standing up for them, not the national anthem.

I’m afraid we have allowed this debate on this song to draw our attention away from the things that really matter. In 20 years will it really matter that Goshen College decided to play the national anthem? Will it matter that we debated the decision until we our throats were too raw to speak? Or will it matter more what we have gone on to do in the world? Will it matter more that we have gone on to take the core values and put them into every aspect of our life, serving the world in whatever way we can?

Or maybe the more important question: Are we going to let the playing the National Anthem change what we, the student body of Goshen College, really stand for?