On Monday, The Washington Post published an opinion piece from a former Post sports columnist, in which he stated that “we’ve now weaponized the ‘Star-Spangled Banner,’” adding, “Wholly supporting its continued inclusion at domestic sporting events is our new shallow-end referendum on patriotism. … There is a silent majority out there, tired of the hate being spewed in the name of patriotism.”
Mike Wise began his essay by referencing the recent controversy after the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told his staff to stop playing the national anthem before home basketball games. Wise termed supporters of playing the anthem before sports events the “Nationalism Police,” quoting Texas Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick stating to Cuban, “Your decision to cancel our National Anthem at @dallasmavs games is a slap in the face to every American & an embarrassment to Texas. Sell the franchise & some Texas Patriots will buy it. We ARE the land of free & the home of the brave.”
Wise noted a meeting between NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Cuban, writing that they had a “genial chat.”
“That leash the league gave teams to do what they felt was appropriate after the summer of 2020? Gone,” wrote Wise. “Play-the-anthem league policy was reinstated, including at Mavericks games, last week.”
Wise mused, “The moment for change had passed.” Then he launched into his attack on playing the anthem before sporting events:
Cuban had it right the first time. Like the flag before and after Jan. 6, we’ve now weaponized the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Wholly supporting its continued inclusion at domestic sporting events is our new shallow-end referendum on patriotism. The anthem has already split the country.
Organized sports have cheapened the national anthem for decades. The lyrics and the music have been co-opted by professional leagues determined to forge an unneeded alliance between sports and nationalism.
He mocked the NFL:
Roger Goodell’s NFL uses America as its brand, wrapping itself in 100-yard flags, military fighter-jet flyovers and, by God, quarterbacks who stand for the national anthem. To be pro-American is to be pro-football — and revel in the absurdity of it all, the way Joe Buck and Troy Aikman did on Fox last year when their mics were still on:
Aikman: “That’s a lot of jet fuel just to do a little flyover.”
Buck, snarkily: “That’s your hard-earned money and your tax dollars at work!”
Wise quoted noted leftist NBA New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy. Van Gundy stated in December that whites “are the ones who are racist” and said last August of America: “We committed genocide against Native Americans. We have enslaved, lynched, segregated and incarcerated blacks over 400 years. Women couldn’t vote for 140 years. Using abuses elsewhere to try to distract from our own poor record on human rights is dishonest.”
Van Gundy said of Cuban’s decision, “This should happen everywhere. If you think the anthem needs to be played before sporting events, then play it before every movie, concert, church service and the start of every work day at every business. What good reason is there to play the anthem before a game?”
Wise then surmised, “None, really, other than at the World Cup, the Olympics and maybe a state high school or college national final. There is a silent majority out there, tired of the hate being spewed in the name of patriotism.”
He morphed his argument against the anthem into an attack on the political Right by utilizing the American flag: “They see the hypocrisy, how the same far-right patriots who decry not playing an anthem at a game also remain silent when the metal pole from the Stars & Stripes is used to beat and bloody a police officer on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.”
After quoting a stanza from the Star-Spangled Banner that is never sung at any sporting event that references “the hireling & slave” and has been accused of being racist, Wise concluded, “We’re too polarized, politically poisoned, to toss the anthem from sports now. But in time, the anthem needs to be ejected from all the games. And when that happens, there will be a benefit: When you finally hear the lyrics and music, they might actually feel special.”