The NBA’s Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made history this week—becoming the first U.S. pro sports team to end playing the national anthem before games. Monday’s home game offered the first opportunity for limited fans to return to the Dallas Airlines Center, with The Star-Spangled Banner strangely unsung as the game began.
The national anthem has become an increasingly divisive issue in recent years, starting with NFL quarterback Colin Kapernick’s kneeling as it played to protest discrimination. The NFL kneeling movement led to protests from many Americans refusing to watch games, with lowered attendance and decreased television viewership. This years Super Bowl viewership was the lowest in the last 15 years.
In 2020, kneeling during the playing of our national anthem extended into other sports. From the NBA to women’s soccer and even college sports, an increasing number of entire teams have kneeled during the anthem without a single person standing to honor the American flag.
When the NBA returned to the bubble in Orlando to complete the 2019-2020 season, many players and coaches joined in anthem kneeling prior to games. Apparently, Cuban has seen enough. Rather than watch ongoing division on the court and across the country, he has chosen to remove the tradition of the national anthem completely.
Is caving to anthem kneelers the best way to support America? Isn’t this the kind of cancel culture response the left has pressed for in recent years? Canceling the national anthem is not a unifying effort; it’s an accommodation to those who disrespect the nation.
What if Cuban had taken the opposite approach, proudly broadcasting The Star-Spangled Banner and requiring all players and team personnel to stand or face fines or suspension? This may not be in line with the “woke” attitude of many of today’s entitled NBA athletes, but it would send an entirely different message.
Instead of disrespecting those who died and dedicated their lives to provide the freedoms we enjoy, it would draw attention to the importance of America’s unique values. Whether a player likes it or not, the same freedoms he discredits through kneeling during the anthem is the same freedom a soldier died for against an enemy far from the comforts of an NBA stadium.
Naturally the decision to nix the playing of the national anthem drew some serious criticism:
@mcuban Kids this is what a gutless coward looks like. Bow to SJW’s to please liberals and turn your backs on the blood spilled by our warriors since 1775. What a great move.
— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) February 10, 2021
Mark Cuban will never be President. 🇺🇸 https://t.co/Bwg6Ui1NF1
— Scott T. Parkinson (@ScottTParkinson) February 10, 2021
— Dr. Johnny (@drjohnny__) February 10, 2021
Most Americans would never kneel at the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner. Why not? It’s a show of disrespect. For every person who has served in the armed forces or has had a loved one who served, the importance of the stars and stripes runs deep. If America indeed stands in need of unity, it should come together around the nation’s key traditions rather than against them. Standing together for the national anthem would be a good place to start.