Mixed Thoughts: Mark Cuban Directs Mavericks to Stop Playing National Anthem Before Games

Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously the national anthem has been a hot button issue in the sports world. It started way back when Colin Kaepernick took a seat, then a knee, and resulted in ten bazillion Facebook and Twitter arguments, mostly involving uncles, while generating an opinion from everybody on the planet Earth.

One of the thoughts was this –

If we want to avoid the anthem controversy, i.e. going apoplectic over who stands and who kneels, then wouldn’t it make sense to just stop playing the anthem entirely? That’s what Mark Cuban decided to do, via ESPN:

The Dallas Mavericks have stopped playing the national anthem before home games at the direction of owner Mark Cuban, he confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday.

The Mavericks do not plan to resume the tradition to play the national anthem before games in the future.

Cuban, who declined further comment, made the decision after consulting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver. The Mavericks did not announce the change in policy, but the national anthem has not been played before any of their 13 preseason and regular-season games at the American Airlines Center this season.

I’ve got mixed thoughts about this.

On one hand, I’ve always enjoyed the anthem before sporting events. I’ve always seen it as a way to pause and reflect and be thankful for the freedoms and opportunities we have here. In my mind, it’s less about nationalistic jingoism and more of a blanket appreciation for the fact that we were born here and not in some oppressive, autocratic country.

On the other hand, you understand that a lot of people look at the flag and see something different. They think about social and racial inequality and the partisan divide that feels like it’s worse than it’s ever been. We should always be sensitive to those thoughts and listen to what people have to say and try to understand their perspectives. That’s why Kaepernick decided to demonstrate in the first place, because he was trying to get our attention.

And then there’s the issue of keeping politics and sports separate. “Stick to sports,” right? That’s what a lot of people want, because they’re sick of ESPN and other outlets inserting socio-political opinions into their coverage. Sometimes you just want to hit the couch, crack open a beer, and watch the game, and if we’re being consistent with that thought, then you’d have to say that axing the national anthem makes a lot of sense. There’s no kneeling and no protesting if the anthem simply is not played.

Ultimately, it’s kind of crazy to think of a Sixers game without Ron Brooks. Or a Flyers game without Lauren Hart. We’re talking about wonderful traditions that have existed for some time and are now woven into the fabric of local sporting events. Certainly it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, and if we’re going out on a limb here, I’d say removing the anthem from spectator-less basketball games would go over a lot better than deciding not to play it before UGA vs. Alabama at Bryant-Denny. Could you imagine?

Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating topic. Is this where we’re headed? Just getting rid of the anthem entirely? It’s certainly congruent with the “stick to sports” idea, and we’d be hypocrites to suggest otherwise, but obviously there will be many strong and differing opinions regarding Mark Cuban’s decision.

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