National Anthem, Barry Trotz and Bird Scooters

trotzOkay, so let me get this straight, the National Football League (NFL) will have a new policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field for the national anthem but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they prefer?  Yeah, that’s not a fix.  Not to sound anti-patriotic here but do we really need to have the national anthem before sporting events anymore?  This whole thing started back in the World War days to rally the country in support of our troops and the war effort.  Honestly unless you are patriotic or a veteran, not many people really care about the national anthem.  People are on their cell phones, talking or anything but being rallied so we’re going to punish players for kneeling?  The fix is to not even have the national anthem performed at sporting events.

Barry Trotz is the head coach for the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League (NHL).  Last night he led his team to a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 to win the Eastern Conference final and advance to the Stanley Cup final against the Vegas Golden Knights.  This will be the second appearance for the Capitals in a Stanley Cup final in their 44-year history.  Trotz is in his fourth season as head coach for the Capitals.  Here’s the interesting part to this story – he was the head coach for the Nashville Predators for 15 years until he was replaced by Peter Laviolette.  Laviolette took the Predators to the Stanley Cup last year.  Wouldn’t it be a kick in the gut if Trotz won the Cup with the Capitals?

Downtown Nashville has been invaded by bird – scooters.  This is a new form of transportation downtown where you can rent a scooter and leave it at random locations.  Yes, add this to the pedal taverns, golf carts, bicycles, cars and pedestrians.  There has been controversy over these scooters not being safe and riders not using the appropriate lanes.  They aren’t supposed to ride on sidewalks or the roads unless they are in the bike lane.  People ignore the rules.  No surprise there.  In fact, yesterday I saw two bird scooter riders nearly get smashed because they were going the wrong way and crossing in front of oncoming traffic to the sidewalk.  These folks already can’t drive all these other vehicles downtown and now we have to deal with these bird scooters?

Why is it when you get on an elevator and press the button to go to the top floor that some folks feel the need to comment like “Oh, going to the penthouse huh?” or “All the way to the top I see?”   What’s up with that?  These aren’t people I know either.  Random strangers.  What compels people to comment?  I usually ignore the comment or give one of my fake laughs (as if were the first time I have heard this).  One day I responded that that is where the psych ward is located and I’m going back to my room.

Jim Bakker is claiming that Yellowstone is going to erupt into a Super Volcano which will devastate America.  Yes, I’m talking about THAT Jim Bakker.  But, not to worry, you can order emergency food buckets he is selling on his website to survive it.  My fav would be the Italian Variety Bucket for $100.  Included in the bucket are all of the ingredients you need to prepare Pizza, Italiano Marinara, Fettuccine Alfredo, Breadsticks and Macaroni and Cheese. These delicious meals are easy to prepare and, with an extended shelf life, offer your family a convenient way to enjoy a hot comforting meal during an emergency or to fulfill your Italian food cravings whenever they may arise.  So, there’s a super volcano erupting, let’s make a pizza!

Trump has cancelled summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.  Maybe I’m the only one but I’ve been highly suspicious of this whole summit to begin with and the sudden change in Kim Jong Un.  It wasn’t long ago that he was test launching missiles and name calling.  I’m not so sure we know the real story about what’s going on here.

I was dropping off a package at UPS last week at the Music City Center and saw that they were having the American Colon/Rectal Surgeons Convention there.  Talking about awkward.  I was only passing through but when I got on the escalator there was a banner which covered the entire side of the escalator advertising the “new” triple staple device.   Yeah, I got out of there real fast.

 

 

Friday Flashback: First National Anthem At A Sporting Event

ThomasFredThe earliest record of the National Anthem at a sporting event occurred on September 5, 1918 in the first game of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs.  World War I had just affected the United States and there was some thought to cancel the World Series altogether.  American soldiers fighting in France were interested in the series and it was a morale boost for them to know what was going on so the series was played.  It was reported that Red Sox third baseman, Fred Thomas, who was also a U.S. Navy sailor gave a stirring performance of the song during the seventh inning stretch.  The New York Times reported:

“Jackie Fred Thomas of the U.S. Navy was at attention, as the stood erect, with his eyes set on the flag fluttering at the top of the lofty pole in right field. First the song was taken up by a few, then others joined, and when the final notes came, a great volume of melody rolled across the field. It was at the very end that the onlookers exploded into thunderous applause and rent the air with a cheer that marked the highest point of the day’s enthusiasm.  The mind of the baseball fan was on the war. The patriotic outburst following the singing of the national anthem was far greater than the upheaval of emotion which greeted Babe Ruth, the Boston southpaw, when he conquered Hippo Him Vaughn and the Cubs in a seething flinging duel by a score of 1 to 0.”

Thomas played three years in the major leagues.  He had a .225 batting average with four home runs and 45 RBI in 247 games.

Although the song wasn’t technically our “national anthem” yet at the time, the song was the anthem for the U.S. Army and Navy but because of the outpouring of patriotism at the 1918 World Series, it propelled the song to become our official national anthem in 1931.

This trend spread to other sporting events throughout World War I and World War II.  At the end of World War II, after Japan announced it would surrender, NFL Commissioner Elmer Layden called for all of the league’s teams to play “The Star-Spangled Banner” at their games, arguing, “The National Anthem should be as much a part of every game as the kick-off. We must not drop it simply because the war is over. We should never forget what it stands for.”

Here are some of the best performances of the National Anthem:

  1. Whitney Houston (Super Bowl 25)
  2. Jennifer Hudson (Super Bowl 43)
  3. Aretha Franklin (2011 American League Championship Series)
  4. Marvin Gaye (1979 Boxing match)
  5. Beyoncé (Super Bow 38)

The Super Bowl is perhaps the most watched performance of the National Anthem.  In the first Super Bowl, the song was performed by the Pride of Arizona, Michigan Marching Band and UCLA choir.   The first well-known entertainer to perform the anthem at the Super Bowl was Charley Pride before Super Bowl 8.

One lone act by a relatively unknown baseball player in the 1918 World Series made the National Anthem the tradition is today before sporting events.

 

So Why Do We Have The National Anthem Before Sporting Events?

San Francisco 49ers’ backup quarterback Colin Kapernick stirred controversy when he sat during the playing of the national anthem before a National Football League (NFL) pre-season game.  He did it in protest of the way African-Americans are treated by police.  Kapernick, who has fallen out of the limelight in recent years, got the attention back in his protest.  Yesterday, President Obama defended Kapernick’s right for freedom-of-speech.  Regardless of how we feel about what Kapernick did, the President is absolutely right.  Kapernick does have a right to express his feelings and disrespect the national anthem.

True, there are many other things to be concerned about than a benched quarterback refusing to stand for the national anthem.  This gave me another thought about this whole issue.  

Why do we have the National Anthem performed before sporting events anyway?

The tradition can be traced back to when the United States entered into World War I.  Major League Baseball games began having patriotic festivities before the game.  During the seventh-inning stretch of game one of the 1918 World Series between the Cubs and Red Sox, the band played “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  Players faced the centerfield flag pole and stood at attention.  The crowd followed and even sang along.  In 1931, the song was made our national anthem by a congressional resolution and the song continued to be played but only on special occasions like opening day, national holidays and World Series games.

From that point on, major sporting events eventually became one of the places where the general public could sing the national anthem together.  Unfortunately, this is the only time most of us hear the song and have a chance to pay tribute to our country.


We have also seen (and heard) the best and worst renditions of the song from Whitney Houston’s powerful voice to Roseanne Barr’s train wreck.  

It’s probably time to seriously consider not making the singing of the national anthem so routine.  It’s clear that the song has lost its meaning to people.  It’s not for a social statement or tool to bring attention to a washed-up quarterback.  It’s a patriotic song which people like John Legend can’t understand.  Let’s stop singing as a pre-game tradition and return it to something special.