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The price of patriotism

Athletes should never be prohibited from showing pride in the U.S.A.

In Pennsylvania, a high school hockey league has banned the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner because it takes too long. Apparently, it costs as much as $300 an hour to rent the ice rinks, so the group wants to get as much play time on the ice as possible.

The decision came after a hockey game was stopped in the third period because the school’s rented ice time had expired. The game had started with a particularly lengthy rendition of the National Anthem, which was then blamed for the time expiration and, ultimately, the ban on playing the song.

Are you as incensed by this as I am? Is this not the stupidest thing you ever heard?

First of all, when you make a commitment to host a sporting event, you make a commitment to pay for it. If it runs over budget by $300, figure that out later. Or take up a collection in the stands. Surely, the two teams could have raised a few Benjamins to finish out the game.

Secondly, learn from this and keep the National Anthem to its normal run time. Or, maybe cut out some of the other pre-game festivities. Everyone has a program, so maybe you don’t need to announce every player as he skates onto the ice. Or maybe itntermissions could be shortened. Maybe work it out with the rink owner to donate the amount of time that the National Anthem plays so it doesn’t cut into rented time.

Maybe people don’t care about the National Anthem. A lot of folks want to change it to God Bless America because God Bless America is easier to sing and would irritate the atheists, the Muslims, the Buddhists and other groups. So, why sing The Star-Spangled Banner at all?

I read an online comment that I think summed it up pretty well. The National Anthem reminds us that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves.

During a sporting event, there are parallels to politics. There are two sides and people generally root for one side or the other, sometimes irrationally so. They talk smack, make promises they can’t keep and cheer when someone on their team does something good that they couldn’t do themselves. And, on occasion, the opposing team will have a moment that everyone can appreciate.

The National Anthem reminds us that while we root for different teams, we’re also on the same team. It adds a civility to the games that risks being lost without it. It also reinforces the benefit of tradition. Pride, patriotism and tradition are woven like the threads on the flag. When you break tradition, you tear at pride and patriotism.

So, do the right thing, Pennsylvania. Play the song and rent a little more ice time. The students need to know that ice time is not worth more than their nation’s anthem.


©Copyright 2012 by David Porter who can be reached at O say, can you see my point of view?

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