Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, is no longer playing the National Anthem, a.k.a. The Star Spangled Banner, before home basketball games.
Good for Cuban.
UPDATE: Bad for Cuban. He gave in to the NBA.
The National Anthem has nothing to do with genuine patriotism. Neither does the Pledge of Allegiance. Neither does the American flag.
We could get rid of all three, except for very special occasions, and our country not only would be just fine, it would be even better.
Why? Because nationalism is divisive. Also, ridiculous. People in every country believe that they live in the greatest country on earth.
The United States is no exception. There's nothing wrong with that belief, aside from the obvious fact that it is just that -- a belief, not reality. Our country does some things well and other things poorly.
So let's simply say that we love the country we're living in, just as other people love their own country. There's no reason to make public displays of country affection commonplace.
After all, European countries don't play national anthems before soccer games, nor are they obsessed with pledges of allegiance.
I know a woman whose family came here from Germany who can't understand the American habit of singing the national anthem before sporting events. That's just plain weird in her more expansive view of what patriotism is all about.
Nancy Armour of USA Today has an opinion piece about Cuban's decision. Here's how it starts out.
Good for Mark Cuban.
The Dallas Mavericks owner made a decision that is sure to bring howls of outrage, threats to boycott his team and an avalanche of vile and vicious emails. But it was the right decision, and I hope it gives others in professional and college sports the courage, or at least cover, to do the same.
The Mavericks are no longer playing the national anthem before home games. I don’t know the reasoning behind Cuban’s decision, and he’s declined to elaborate further, both to The Athletic, which first reported the absence of the anthem, and USA TODAY Sports.
But he hinted at it last summer, when he said he supported Mavericks players and coaches who were kneeling during the anthem to protest racial injustice following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and too many other Black men and women.
“The National Anthem Police in this country are out of control,” Cuban said on Twitter. “If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why they don’t play the National Anthem every day before you start work.”
He’s right. We don’t play The Star-Spangled Banner before concerts or movies. We don’t hear it at rec league soccer games or school plays. We don’t stand at attention and listen to it before we start our workdays.
If it doesn’t belong at those events – and clearly it doesn’t since there hasn’t been any widespread movement to make it a staple of our daily routine – it doesn’t belong at college and professional sporting events, either.
Here is where a segment of the population will say that anyone who dares suggest doing away with the anthem should move to China or North Korea and see how we like things there. The irony of which never escapes me. Requiring the anthem to be played before sporting events, and using it as some Rorschach test for how much you love your country, is the exact kind of faux display of patriotism those authoritarian regimes excel at.
There are no doubt some who are deeply moved by The Star-Spangled Banner, and see it as a way to honor those who have and do serve this country. But there are also those for whom it is a reminder of this country’s failings, and the work we still need to do to achieve true equality.