Stop Wrapping the Flag Around Pro Sports, by Ryan McMaken

Take the government’s money to promote “patriotism,” and pay the price when players decide not to buy into it. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

Desperate to fill hours and hours of air time on 24-hour news channels, media corporations have made sure the discussion of the correct posture of National Football League players has been front and center.

Apparently, before grown men can chase a little toy around a grassy field for a few hours, it’s absolutely essential that they take part in a variety of pro-government rituals. This was not always the case, though, and prior to the twentieth century, it was hardly expected that a ballgame be preceded by a recitation of the national anthem or any other song of national allegiance.

Some assert that current rituals are of especially recent origin, with  Tom Curran claiming on Comcast Sportsnet that prior to 2009, football players “weren’t on the field for the national anthem and instead generally remained in the locker room.”

There is little doubt that at least some players, prior to 2009, elected to be on the field during the anthem, but there is no known current regulation mandating such behavior. 

The fact that participation in these rituals have become mandatory —  in the minds of many Americans, at least — would likely strike nineteenth-century Americans as rather odd.

Before the First World War, playing the national anthem or sporting events was quite rare. No one expected it to be done, and hiring a band was expensive.

As is often the case with jingoist displays, however, matters were accelerated and exaggerated by wartime.

According to mlb.com, the most conspicuous early use of the national anthem was at game 1 of the 1918 World Series during World War I. Unexpectedly, during the seventh-inning stretch, a military band played the national anthem in an effort to liven up a reportedly surly and war-wearied group of spectators.

To continue reading: Stop Wrapping the Flag Around Pro Sports

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7 responses to “Stop Wrapping the Flag Around Pro Sports, by Ryan McMaken

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