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O say can you see

June 21, 2010 - Steve Murch
Do you sing the national anthem when it's played at the beginning of an event? If not, you're likely among the majority. It's hard to tell sometimes who is singing and who isn't when it gets blared over the PA system.

Such is not the case at the World Cup. Fans and players from the various countries belt out their national anthems prior to the matches. Not all the players on the teams sing, but most do. The exception? The good old USA. Hardly any of the players sing. The U.S. fans on the other hand belt it out loud and clear, easily picked up by the stadium microphones used for the television broadcasts.

Some of the U.S. players lip the words, but if they are singing it's hard to tell because they are so soft. Some teams have every player singing at the top of their lungs. Chile is a prime example of that. Most of the players have a smile on their face as they sing. U.S. players? They're rather stoic. It can't be an intensity thing, because Chile is 2-0 after today's game, while the U.S. has a pair of draws.

I think some of it stems from our sporting events. Most games have a special singer to sing the national anthem. To top it off, the announcer usually asks those in attendance to stand FOR the singing of our national anthem. Rare is the case where they say stand and JOIN IN the singing of our national anthem. I think we've become conditioned not to sing along, but rather listen to the person who is singing into the microphone, then let out a yell at the end. Not really patriotic.

It's been so long since the Baltimore Orioles were good that their games aren't on TV. They fans used to holler out “O” (for Orioles) when the Oh, arrives at the crescendo near the end. Braves fans used to yet out “Braves” at the final word of the Star Spangled Banner. Not sure if the whole song was sung by the fans in either instance.

It shouldn't surprise us that no one sings the national anthem. After all, I remember when I was covering sports (since I don't do it anymore, I don't know if they still do), but the PA announcer used to have to remind the men to remove their hats. That probably says a lot right there about how people view the national anthem.

Admittedly, we have a national anthem that has some range to it and can be a challenge vocally. But should it really matter?

Next time you're somewhere and the national anthem plays, have a little pride and let 'er rip, even if it's off key.

 
 

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