The Anthem is back and my family thanks the NBA for that! Hours after team owner, Mark Cuban banned it at his Dallas Maverick’s games, the league listened to voices across the U.S. and reinstated it now that fans are returning to the stands.
Playing the anthem is important to me and to my family. What else is there that brings us together en masse for a few minutes to pause and think about the one thing that unequivocally unites us as Americans? Our shared country - the common ground on which every citizen stands. When demonstrating pride in our country becomes a bad thing, we are sunk.
I’m not saying the national anthem at sporting events will cure the state of things. Our ailments obviously run much deeper than that. The U.S.A. is far from perfect, but look around, folks. So is every other country. And for all our faults, which we are free to work on in our little postage stamp, there are good things, too. Right now, with the heaviness of Covid, politics, and a great divide born of differences, we absolutely must remember the most basic things that unite us, too. Like being American.
I’ve attended more sporting events than I can count. My dad was an NHL coach and I stood and sang in respect of the anthems of both the U.S., my chosen home, and Canada, my native home. It was a few minutes to pause and think about our most basic belonging. It was one of the only times in my young life that I considered the gift of country more than fleetingly. I’m sure it is for my kids, too. I don't want them - or any of us - to lose that.
Sport is more than just a game. It’s also about coming together as a city, a state, or even a country. Fans, united. When the anthem plays, we pause (or at least we’re supposed to) and we listen to the song of our country. Kneel if you will. Sing if you want to. But the anthem should be played. We need to remember that we are ALL Americans and this is OUR country. We need every unifier we can find. Even just a symbolic one. Especially now. Please don’t take that from us.
Remember the unity and national pride that came after the devastation of 9-11? It was a horrific way to get there, but it brought to the surface a love of country and concern for others. Flags flew. The anthem played. People sang. We checked on neighbors and stopped taking one another for granted. We remembered that we needed one another and patriotism reminded us we had one another’s backs.
In today’s climate, some will say they're NOT proud of America for its egregious acts of the past or the present. They're not proud of a country so divided, of the violence and the stances with which they disagree. I understand. I’m not proud of those things either, but beware of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I urge you to look beyond the headlines and out your front door. Think about the incredible opportunity these United States offer, the freedoms we enjoy, the good in your neighborhood, your city, your state. Look for it. It’s there.
We sports fans have been vocal about the anthem playing. It's our reminder of an inherent call to unity. I want to sing. And I want my children to grow up singing, too, so they'll be reminded that this is the land of the free and the home of the brave.