The playing of the National Anthem at sporting events has become a hot-button issue over the past few years. In the wake of nationwide social justice protests and the Black Lives Matter movement, athletes across the country have taken to kneeling during the anthem as a form of protest against what they view as systemic racism. As a result, some sporting events have ceased playing the anthem altogether.
On Tuesday, Wisconsin State Assembly lawmakers passed a bill requiring the National Anthem to be played before all sporting events that take place at arenas and venues which receive taxpayer dollars. It will now head to the State Senate for a final vote.
The bill was proposed by Rep. Tony Kurtz, a military veteran, who said the playing of the anthem will remind Wisconsin residents that they are all part of one country.
“We are a very dysfunctional family at times that’s for sure — but we are a family,” Kurtz said on Tuesday. “And what concerns me, once again to my core, is we are ripping ourselves apart internally in this country.”
“A part of me worries about that. When somebody says I’m not going to play the anthem — that does concern me. Because folks, whether you like it or not we are one big family and I want people to remember that.”
According to WISN in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Kurtz proposed the bill shortly after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban decided that his team would discontinue the tradition of playing the National Anthem before his team’s home games.
Only Democrats opposed the bill which passed on a 74-22 vote. According to WISN, Democrat David Bowen said, “This gets in the way of folks being able to use their right to protest.”
Rep. Lisa Subeck, Democrat from Wisconsin, voted against the bill and said, “As much as I respect our flag, as much as I believe in this country, as much as I believe in our freedom, I’m not sure it makes sense to mandate that it be played.”
The bill would also apply to youth sports and rec league softball games, though Kurtz said that the bill is largely symbolic and unenforceable.
“I don’t want to make it enforceable,” Kurtz said. “I want people to voluntarily do that.”
The debate around the National Anthem has been raging ever since then San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the anthem in 2016, protest what he viewed as “police brutality.”
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Players throughout all sports have knelt during the National Anthem, causing many fans to abandon watching the sports they so love. The debate around the anthem was reinvigorated last summer after the death of George Floyd, and the majority of NBA players knelt during the National Anthem during the NBA restart in Orlando, Florida.
In the years following Kaepernick’s protest, the NFL has changed the wording of its official National Anthem stance. The statement below applied to the 2020 NFL season.
“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.”
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.