The National Anthem: Tradition Or Respect?

TJ JenkinsAnalyst IMarch 2, 2009

What song can make a stadium of thousands stand in utter silence one moment, and have it erupting the next?

None other than the National Anthem of the United States of America; “The Star Spangled Banner. “

As an outside observer, a fan, you may or may not notice small things. Things such as tears streaming down an athlete’s face, or a player with his eyes closed.

Sometimes you may see a player refusing to stand during the anthem to make a political statement.

This isn’t about right or wrong, this is about the feeling that I get when I hear it sung prior to a game.

I first noticed the effect that it had on me during Super Bowl XLIII. The camera panned over the athletes, and I found myself smiling for no real reason. I found myself welling up with pride simply because for the time it took to sing that song every fan, coach, and player were united.

Just prior to fighting each other tooth and nail, they came together and got a glimpse of the bigger picture.

Sports are more than just something to pass the time, they are something to unite around. They represent more than just a city.

United, they represent an entire fan base, an entire country. There’s something about watching a sporting event that just reaches out and grabs you. For however long that event goes on, nothing else matters to the players, coaches or fans.

No personal problems interfere, it’s nothing but business.

It gives fans a chance to bond while watching the games, and it allows the players to form a brotherhood with each other. Because once you play together, you form a bond with the men (or women) that are right beside you playing their hearts out.

It also allows some fans to almost live through the players they’re watching. Every little kid dreamed of being a pro athlete, very few make it all the way.

Sports allow people to sit back and relax. One good game can be the talk of the town for a week. The good news is that one bad game can be forgotten in the same amount of time.

It’s a win-win with sports.

The Star Spangled Banner has been the center of controversy over the years while being played at sporting events, because of the fact that certain players refused to stand and honor it—saying they disagreed with certain US foreign policies.

I’m not here to argue about whether or not they should be separated, but let’s examine both sides.

On one hand, you have athlete’s that want to make a statement for political purposes. They might want to show that they disapprove of the country’s stance on a certain issue and thus ignore the anthem, sit nonchalantly, and wait for it to be over.

On the other hand, you will find players that have served in the armed forces, or have friends and family that are serving. They’ll argue that the song’s always been apart of the sport they’re playing.

This of course is going to cause controversy. The media absolutely eats that up.

All in all I do believe that it would be incredibly weird to not hear the Star Spangled Banner prior to a game, it’d feel almost empty.

Like a piece of history had been torn from the game.

The question I pose to you is, is it just a silly tradition? Or is it a matter of respect for the United States Of America?