Just stop playing the national anthem, already

Ignore whether Colin Kapernick had n First Amendment right to protest what he viewed as an injustice. (He did, and it is.) Ignore whether Trump’s fight with the NFL is a diversion from the fact that his agenda (if the slights and petty squabbles banging around inside his head can be called an agenda) is stalled and (worse) dangerous. (It is, and it is.) Ignore whether the NFL has prostituted itself to the U.S. military. (It has. Flyovers, military colorguards, a flag covering the field. It’s panem et circenses.) Ask, instead, why is the national anthem played at sporting events?

It hasn’t always been a part of sports. The song didn’t become the national anthem until 1931. It didn’t become an official part of the NFL until after World War II. And, it has nothing to do with sport–which has nothing to do with honoring America or whatever.

Athletes don’t play to honor America. They play to win, or to showcase their talents for the next level of competition. (Or, if they are professional and we are cynical, to get paid.) Fans don’t attend games (or watch them on TV) to honor America. They go to pass time, or watch their kids play, or tailgate, or just watch.

Sports aren’t political rallies, or military festivals. They’re sports. There is no more reason to play the national anthem before the game, than “Back in Black.”

Here’s a solution to (mostly African-American) players exercising their social conscience it in a manner that upsets some (mostly white) fans: stop playing the national anthem at games. In the NFL, you can still have all the pyrotechnics of player introductions. They warm up. There’s the coin toss. And the game starts. There’s no need for the national anthem.

Clyde A Shuman