I’m a big sports fan. And a big patriot.
I know not everybody thinks it is necessary, or even appropriate, to ask thousands of fans to stand and honor the flag and our nation before a sporting event. I have mixed emotions about it myself. A while back I asked why US sports venues so frequently play the Canadian national anthem before an event in our country, yet you will never hear the Star Spangled Banner before a CFL (Canadian Football League) game even though many of the players (all of the best ones) are from the United States.
This week the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA championship series. Before each game – like every professional sports event in the United States – there was the singing of our national anthem. I really enjoyed this year’s NBA Finals anthem presentations. Carlos Santana played a beautiful rendition on his PRS guitar, albeit patiently condoning his wife’s pathetic attempt to accompany him on drums. The two Metallica guitarists shredded a heavy-metal version of the SSB and it was surprisingly authentic, rich, patriotic and satisfying. Marlana VanHoose, a blind and palsied 19-year old singer captivated the audience with her powerful rendition of the national anthem.
Still, I am disappointed every time I attend or watch an NBA game when most of the players look down at their shoes, showing either indifference, disrespect, or perhaps contempt for the flag, our anthem, and the nation that made each of them fabulously wealthy. Who knows what the motivation is – they may be making a political statement, or they may just be getting focused on the game ahead. Regardless, would it be so hard to at least look up at the flag?
The photo above is a typical NBA pre-game presentation. My review of a different photograph taken before game 5 showed two of the twelve Golden State Warriors, David Lee and Draymond Green, standing at attention during the national anthem. A third, James Michael McAdoo, who was brought up from the D-league and did not even get on the floor during the finals, actually placed his hand over his heart. The other nine players stared at the floor and shuffled.
Here are the guaranteed contracts of these nine players:
- Klay Thompson – $72 million
- Andrew Bogut – $36 million
- Andre Igoudala – $35 million
- Stephen Curry – $34 million
- Shaun Livingston – $14 million
- Harrison Barnes – $7 million
- Mareese Speights – $4 million
- Festus Ezeli – $3 million
- Leandro Barbosa – $1.5 million
Yes, I have mixed emotions about the coerced patriotism at every major league sporting event. I question whether it is sincere patriotism or pandering. Especially after learning that NFL teams, despite the outrageous money players and owners make, actually charged taxpayers millions of dollars for the “privilege” of having our service branches perform flag ceremonies before games.
The decision whether to present a patriotic moment before a game is, to my thinking, up to the home team and the league. If they wish to do so, based on honest intentions, I’m good with that. If not, I have no complaint.
The NBA has chosen to have a patriotic ceremony before each game. And it seems to me that the nine employees listed above, and the hundreds or thousands of other professional athletes who earn millions of dollars playing a game they love in front of people who pay their salaries and pay for their arenas with tax dollars, could at least show a little respect to the country to whom they owe their success.
James Michael McAdoo, you didn’t even get to touch the game ball in the finals. But I salute you, above and beyond all the other NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. By showing respect to our country, you are more than just a Warrior – you are a Patriot.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
Find out what it means to me!
Take care, TCB!
A young and slender Aretha belts it out!