Why is the National Anthem Played at Sporting Events?
Why is the National Anthem Played at Sporting Events?

Why is the National Anthem Played at Sporting Events?

American sports fans know that the national anthem is an inextricable part of every match, playing thousands of times each year at high school and professional games alike. So why do we listen and sing along as spectators?

Answers lie within the history of the song itself. According to SB Nation, sports first encountered their national anthem in 1918 after 13 years of conflict, when patriotism spiked – something captured by media coverage of sporting events and spread further across society.

As a result, by the end of World War I it had become customary for teams to perform “The Star Spangled Banner” before each home game. The tradition continued post-World War II after America entered Vietnam War; when nationalist pride surged further and soon teams were mandated to stand at attention tuck their helmets under arms during national anthem and not speak, chew gum or move during its performance.

At that time, the National Anthem became synonymous with American sports and became the subject of intense debate regarding its proper etiquette. Fans would criticize players for talking during it while those who didn’t stand or kneel were accused of lacking patriotism. When former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick launched a movement in 2016 that used the Anthem to highlight police brutality against Black people using the Anthem as its focal point, this issue became a national one.

The national anthem remains a central feature of sports today, particularly the NFL. But leagues should recognize that its meaning has changed with the times; forcing players to perform it unnecessarily would only serve to further alienate fans from what’s relevant today.

Instead, the NBA and other leagues should allow teams to decide for themselves whether to perform or not play the national anthem. Requiring them to do so would merely embolden right-wing political groups who attempt to use controversy over this matter for political gain with their audience. That would not be wise of any business, let alone one seeking to portray itself as progressive and welcoming of athletes of all kinds. At a time when many Americans are anxious about police violence and white supremacy, it may make more sense to let the national anthem choose its own path than attempt to impose a rigid interpretation on it. That way, it might return to its roots of celebrating national heroes while inspiring us all to fight for ideals it represents; that way it can best serve those who cherish and revere it.