Monday, June 26, 2006

The Anthem Disease

I’m not exactly sure where this idea that we need to sing the national anthem before a sporting event came from (my guess is it originated during WWII or the Cold War), but I personally hate it. It just reinforces blind, totalitarian patriotism – something we could do with less of. Like the Pledge of Allegiance, it makes me think of a bunch of Soviet or Chinese kids being made to salute the flag every morning. What exactly does a football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears have to do with national identity? I can understand it at international competitions such as the Olympics, where the athletes are actually representing their country, not a business that is typically associated with one city. (Let's start hearing the Civic Anthem! At least that makes sense!) And when leagues with multiple countries such as the NHL involved do it, it’s even more frustrating and just encourages people to associate a city’s team with the nation it’s in, despite the where the players are from (gotta cheer for the "Canadian team" in the playoffs). Example: are the Carolina Hurricanes actually an “American” team? Their roster has the following national breakdown:

Canada: 11
United States: 7
Czech Republic: 2
Russia: 1
Ukraine: 1
Sweden: 1
Switzerland: 1

A bunch of Canadians and Europeans (and lots of Americans, granted) playing for their country? No, they’re playing for their team and for their salary, and to a lesser extent the city that is home to the organization. The recent ‘booing’ of national anthems of the opposing “country” at these types of events adds credence to the argument that the anthems play to us at our nationalistic worst. Let’s stop the fascist tradition of playing the anthem before games, and just try to imagine what it might be like.


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