A symbol of Patriotic Pride or a useless ritual?
As a college basketball coach one of my essential duties is to recruit high school student-athletes that I believe will positively impact my program while helping the student prepare for life with a college education. You spend countless hours on the road, sitting in the stands, interacting with people from all walks of life etc. During a couple of recent trips to high school gymnasiums, I noticed something that to some may seem trivial, but it has caught my attention. At the start of each game as is customary for most athletic contests the national anthem is either sung or played. This tradition began during World War I & II. Take the time to Google the history of playing the national anthem at sporting events while you’re at it look up the history of the song and its meaning to this country in case its been a while since you took History 101. What I’ve observed during this time honored tradition amongst today’s youth was both appalling and disappointing. In one incident a school administrator had to walk over to the bleachers and ask the students to be quiet and rise as a fellow student began the first verse. As the singer weaved through the anthem it was hard to focus on her singing as the students continued conversations, texting, and kept moving throughout the gym . I happened to sit next to a young woman who recently graduated from high school and at the conclusion of the anthem she remarked “What a shame, you should not have to be told to stand and be quiet during the anthem” I agreed and asked why did she think the students have no respect for the anthem . She chalked it up to lack of maturity and ignorance.
A few nights later in another gym this same phenomena took place, people were engaged in conversations filled with laughter, looking at their phones, and so on. I could not help but wonder if as a country have we failed to educate the next generation on the symbolic importance of the national anthem or perhaps we should take the cue from this generation and eliminate the tradition which has become routine. In essence skip the preliminary and get right to the main event. Does anyone really care what takes place after the introductions of the players and coaches? After all today’s society is all about speed , we live in a world that dictates the need for quick replies, swift responses, and fast download or upload times. As a young man growing up whenever the anthem began you observed it in the same manner as the men and women of the armed services (United States Code 36 USC 301-Sec.30), . I mean you stood perfectly still and whatever you were doing prior to the start of the anthem was irrelevant you would stop, you would not dare engage in a sidebar conversation for fear of the wrath of the crowd. But as we turn the clock on a new year I have to ask you my friends how do you feel about the anthem? What does it represent to you? Is it an outdated ritual? I look forward to reading your replies in the meantime; I’ll continue to endure another high school student’s off key rendition of Francis Scott Key’s lyrics while her peers continue with business as usual.