There has been much talk about behavior during the playing of the National Anthem at sporting events. Notice how it’s always the behavior of the players (workers), that is the focus of discussion. The owners & fascist fans can do whatever they want, but the players must be strictly controlled & censured. Each league has now re-iterated and/or clarified it’s policy during the National Anthem performance .
Of course, few ever bother to ask the most-important question, “Why is this song even played before sporting events?” That question is not allowed to be asked, and if you do, you are blacklisted by the “legitimate” media & political world. Americans are divided over the National Anthem on class lines. This fact is always concealed by ESPN & the rest of the corporate fake media.
One of the silver linings to being blacklisted is that you can do whatever you want, because it doesn’t matter– as you are permanently shut out of the mainstream. You will never see ideas such as these expressed in corporate-controlled mass media. In that spirit, these are my suggestions on how to approach this hot-button topic. I encourage others who feel similarly, to express yourself in a way that makes you feel comfortable, while staying true. By the way, all this also applies to “God Bless America,” (or anything else that shouldn’t be played) during the 7th-inning stretch, etc.
For many like me, the National Anthem is a convenient bathroom break, so as a rule I never kneel for it, although I sometimes squat. I’m not alone, as the bathroom is usually crowded while the Anthem is being performed. No one takes their hat off, or stops mid-piss in the john. These are just personal observations from 40+ years of attending virtually every type of sporting event in the United States.
Professionally speaking, I don’t think “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a very good song. I was never all that moved by it, even as a child. But I will admit that I’ve sung it a lot, as it’s a useful song. By this I mean, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a very difficult song to sing well. Therefore it is an excellent vocal-training tool. I’ve never sung it before an audience.
When the lyrics hit, “… and the rockets’ red glare,” is when most amateurs lose it. Often the Anthem performance is painful to watch/hear, especially when done by kids, but you are never allowed to be critical of that– after all this is AMERICA! We won’t allow our kids (who are trying their best) to be “bullied.” So to be fair, here instead is one of the most infamous adult examples of Francis Scott [off]Key:
Beyond being a voice training tool, I don’t see much else of value here. It’s primary function (of course) is its nefarious use by the ruling class to whip up nationalism & militarism among under-educated workers & the rest. Why do team owners & their leagues fear these protests so much? To ask the question is to answer it, as it indicates how class divided we are as a society. This fact must be concealed at all costs, by the haves.
Free speech means you have the right to say whatever someone else deems as “most offensive,” just as long as you don’t threaten, libel, or cause a panic. It’s also free speech to stand like a zombie when the Anthem plays & the flag waves. We all make choices and live with them. Colin Kaepernick (SF 49ers), Bruce Maxwell (Oakland A’s), and every other athlete have this right, and those of us fighting fascism encourage every athlete to exercise it. As they have pointed out– too many don’t have a voice, so professional athletes are now behooved to stand up for them.
As far as Trump demanding respect for the flag goes, respect is a two-way street. Evidentially in order for 2016 NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson to get a White House invite, he has to hail Trump, while declaring his unabiding loyalty. Otherwise, no invitation. Jimmie Johnson has already said he supports everyone’s right to make their own decision, while personally standing for the flag & anthem . That’s just not good enough, for everyone from Donald Trump to the liberal-Democrat McCarthyists who have censored the Internet and blacklisted all political opposition.
Do you know who the least likely people to stand and pay attention for “The Star-Spangled Banner” are?” Answer: The rich folks in the box seats. Check for yourself next time, if you don’t believe that. No one tunes in, or pays for a ticket to see the National Anthem performed, in any sport. Tell anyone who gives you flak on this, to get real with their hypocritical indignity, and then look for the class interest behind their attacks. The National Anthem (and the flag) are used as tools for class control. Working people must be made to bow before them, because it symbolizes the rule of wealth under capitalism.
The truth of truths here is that taking a knee, while courageous at first, still isn’t enough. Sports don’t unite us, they divide us– daily, in so many ways. That’s why front-row seats cost so much more. It’s a different game when you’re watching from the nose-bleed seats, isn’t it!? Within all this, the athletes themselves are divided, because their salaries are so varied. Rookies are generally underpaid, while veterans are overpaid. There are only a few superstars in each sport, and they usually get all the ink, especially when labor issues arise.
Taking a knee, now gives ANY athlete an opportunity to express themselves. Most still don’t, out of fear of being blacklisted. Colin Kaepernick is most-definitely blacklisted by the NFL, as he’s easily a top-10 QB– which ~20 teams need. Winning on the field is important to most owners, but protecting their wealth is EVERYTHING. Sports are owned by billionaires, who provide a vehicle for the rulers of capitalism (Wall Street & Madison Avenue) to exercise mind-control class warfare on the population.
In the end, we watch sports because we love them. These athletes do things we can’t, and it’s fun (and sometimes amazing) to watch them work. Most fans are with the athletes in all this, as they (at least) can feel things being manipulated, even if they don’t fully understand it. Many others already know, and their numbers are increasing daily.
This is what the ruling class fears above all else: a movement from the working people that gets out of their control. Modern sports, combined with social media and the Internet, now provide global links for discussions that can create worker solidarity across all fields. That is the power which fans & athletes must harness into a revolution, in order to stop this unending cycle of capitalist violence.
If this isn’t done, be forewarned that fascism is preparing itself for a hostile takeover. It’s political base is still weak, and they can still be contained & defeated, but only through conscious revolutionary action. Anything less is an empty gesture.