Outdated traditions: is the National Anthem still necessary before sporting events?

Cooper Lewis ‘26, Sports Editor

It is the same routine for most sporting events. The teams do their warmups, have a team meeting, and possibly do a cheer or two. The crowd then rises, removes their hats, and looks toward a large American flag hanging from the ceiling or adorning a wall. Once the Star Spangled Banner has finished playing, everyone turns their attention back to the event. 

This happens at nearly every athletic event, but why? This old tradition actually dates back to World War I. During the 1918 World Series involving the Boston Red Socks and Chicago Cubs, a band in the bleachers randomly began playing the Star Spangled Banner as a way to strike patriotism in fans and to commemorate the war coming to an end. Not only that, but it was played to show respect and honor the soldiers who were fighting overseas. Sheryl Kaskowitz, an American music writer and researcher, said, “Then, when the series moved to Boston, the song was performed at a ceremony before each game.”
The tradition, however, did not fully take off until World War II concluded. At the time, it was normal for songs to be played before community gatherings, so sporting events seemed to fit in perfectly. Americans took inspiration from Canada, who, during wartime, would play its national anthem before hockey events. And so, a tradition was born. 

“The ritual, once it’s in place, is very difficult to remove,” said Kaskowitz. “It would be hard to step away and say OK, suddenly we’re not feeling patriotic anymore.” There have already been examples of professional sporting events refraining from playing the National Anthem before their games began. In early 2021, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said the National Anthem had not been played before home games since the beginning of the season. This caused quite the stir, with audiences seeing the action as unpatriotic, or even disrespectful. 

The United States is currently not at war with any other nation. We are not involved in any conflict overseas, which begs the question: is there really any reason to make Americans feel a greater sense of pride and patriotism in their country? Should this tradition continue, or is it one which needs to be retired? 

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