Courtesy of Carrie Nelson via Flickr

It is no longer uncommon to see people protest the national anthem during sporting events. Whether it is the refusal to sing or taking a knee, it has become recognized that the pregame tradition of singing the national anthem no longer resonates with the majority of Americans. Sporting events are supposed to be inclusive of all people, bringing together fans from all backgrounds in celebration of sporting events. Until American patriotism benefits all citizens and not just white people, sports fans and athletes should not be required to have the national anthem as their pregame ritual.

Teams should not be reprimanded for refusing to play the national anthem just because a few ignorant people get enraged over its absence. For instance, Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, was recently berated by mobs of angry people after he made the executive decision to cease playing the anthem. His reasoning behind it was rational, explaining that many people feel like “The Star-Spangled Banner” no longer represents them. Many sports fans saw this move as “unpatriotic,” thus causing the NBA to force Cuban to resume this tradition. 

This ridiculous commotion over the anthem is taking away from the real purpose of sporting events 一 camaraderie and fun. Sports should not have become as politicized as they are now. Political leaders and the “patriotism police” should not have a say in whether or not a song is being played. After all, the national anthem is not an integral part of sporting events in America, and until the song brings pride to all Americans and not just white ones, it is not necessary to keep playing it.

The national anthem does not benefit those who are constantly being hurt by this country, which is obvious once the lyrics’ origins are examined. Especially following Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, it should be clear that the national anthem does not reflect all voices equally in America. Even if the anthem’s lyrics aren’t explicitly racist, the writer of the song was. Continuing to uphold this song while ignoring this fact silences and demeans people of color. 

In this country, the anthem has become aggressively politicized and a symbol of division and hate. Considering that people of color make up a large number of the fan base for sports and athletes on teams, it is outdated to include this song in the pregame repertoire. The national anthem is not inclusive to Americans and if we keep perpetuating this false sense of patriotism, then nothing will improve for people of color.

Many will viciously argue that the refusal to play the anthem or the willingness to condemn it means that one is un-American. In fact, I have often heard the argument, “Well, if you don’t like it here, then leave” from these individuals whenever I have spoken on this particular issue. However, this argument is baseless and tone-deaf. This country is not for white people to gatekeep, and they do not have the authority to say who stays or who goes 一 although foolish leaders have given them this false confidence. 

This country was founded on the displacement of people of color, and in the coming centuries, they have continued to be violently oppressed and exploited by those who pride themselves in being patriots. Consequently, the national anthem has since become a tool for racism rather than patriotism 一 although recently those words have become synonymous. Sporting events in America have long been known to bring large groups of people together. Therefore, the national anthem should have no place in sporting events where teamwork and love are supposed to prevail. 

Being anti-American should never be characterized as someone who is willing to hold themselves and their countries accountable for their actions. And it should never be anti-American to want this country to be better and full of love. Therefore, sporting events, a staple in many American’s lives, should not be centralized around a song that does the opposite of spreading love and pride. While it may anger those who do not understand, it is necessary to make this change in order to be more inclusive of all people in America.