Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Tuesday he decided before this season began not to play the national anthem before the team’s home games. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
From the Associated Press: “Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Tuesday he decided before this season began not to play the national anthem before the team’s home games. Cuban didn’t elaborate on his decision not to play the anthem, saying nobody had noticed. The Athletic first reported that Dallas had dropped the anthem.” Here’s what both sides are saying and why this story matters:
On the Right
Conservatives and right-leaning commentators are appalled by Dallas’ decision. To them, Cuban and the NBA represent a threat to American ideals and this move is yet another example of why the country is so divided.
Amanda Prestigiacomo writes in the Daily Wire that “as the nation has become increasingly divided, traditionally unifying acts of patriotism, like standing for the national anthem, have become partisan.”
Stephen Kruiser explains in PJ Media that he is no longer an NBA fan because “this past year the NBA decided that it needed to be the wokest of the major American sports leagues.” He goes on to highlight how the league promoted protests that led to riots last summer, as well as their intimate business relationship with the PRC (China): “While the league was making it clear that it was down with the riot struggle, it was also leaving no doubt about its allegiance to China.”
Other Conservatives shared their opinions on social media. Megyn Kelly, an American attorney who was a talk show host at Fox News from 2004 to 2017, tweeted: “Fans who still choose to attend should put their hands on their hearts and just start singing it. Now that would be a moment.” Charles Payne, a Fox Business Network contributor, said: “The Mark Cuban national anthem story is not a sports story, it’s part of a much larger campaign against Conservative values: The avalanche of negative attacks on guns, religion, the National Anthem, [and] US flag. [These] are designed to demonize the brand and Conservatives better fight back soon.” Dan Crenshaw, a Representative for Texas’s 2nd congressional district, tweeted: “The national anthem has become the whipping post for woke elites with a cause. Since they can’t figure out how to actually solve problems, they attack something beloved and unrelated: the anthem. Then they pat themselves on the back, telling each other how much they ‘care.’” Lastly, according to the Texas Tribune, “Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced that he will make the ‘Star Spangled Banner Act’ a legislative priority this session.”
Republicans are not happy about the Mavericks’ decision to renounce the national anthem and see this as further evidence of the left’s insistence to politicize sports.
On The Left
Progressive commentators and a decent portion of Democrats believe playing the national anthem before sporting events is an unnecessary relic. They have generally been supportive of kneeling during the anthem as a sign of protest and by extension aren’t particularly bothered by Cuban’s decision to suspend it altogether.
Nancy Armour, writing in USA Today, begins by quoting Cuban who said: “The National Anthem Police in this country are out of control. If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why they don’t play the National Anthem every day before you start work.” Armour agrees with Cuban: “We don’t play The Star-Spangled Banner before concerts or movies. We don’t hear it at rec league soccer games or school plays. We don’t stand at attention and listen to it before we start our workdays.” Ultimately, the anthem is just a symbolic representation of our ideals. For many, it is an unpleasant “reminder of this country’s failings, and the work we still need to do to achieve true equality.” This was highlighted last summer by “Mavericks players and coaches who were kneeling during the anthem to protest racial injustice following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many other Black men and women.”
Sam Fels of Deadspin agrees. He writes: “Somehow it escaped most everyone’s attention for 13 home games that the Dallas Mavericks weren’t playing the national anthem before any of them, which pretty much tells you how important the tradition actually was in the first place.” Fels believes “the anthem before every game has always felt jingoistic and overdone” and “the fact that it took six weeks before anyone noticed in Dallas pretty much tells you that. This country has always confused shouting ‘patriotism’ with actual patriotism. The playing of the anthem before every game was and is just a show, essentially an empty gesture now. We can move on and find other ways to define who we are.”
In the Chicago Tribune, Kevin Williams agrees. He writes: “Mark Cuban took the brave — and right — path by not playing the national anthem before Dallas Mavericks games. Too bad the NBA made him reverse course.” NBA commissioner Adam Silver did in fact release a statement mandating all team’s to play the national anthem going forward. “With NBA teams now in the process of welcoming fans back into their arenas, all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy,” Silver said in the release.
The Left ultimately believes the national anthem has evolved into a needless distraction at sporting events. Instead of being preoccupied by a song, they believe our nation should focus on living up to our common virtues as a people by “walking the walk” rather than “talking the talk.”
A YouGov poll conducted over the summer on behalf of CBS News shows the country is still divided on this issue, with 58% of US adults believing that kneeling during the anthem is an acceptable form of protest while 42% say it’s intolerable. A Washington Post poll yielded nearly identical results but also shows that 62% of US adults believe athletes have the right to express themselves on social and national issues. The most interesting result from a political standpoint lies with an NBC/WSJ poll that found “Independents also called the protests inappropriate by a margin of about 15 points, with 57% calling them inappropriate and 42% disagreeing.” Americans will soon have an opportunity to vote with their money as well: Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who inspired the kneeling movement, is raising $250 million via Mission Advancement Corp. to “acquire a company at the intersection of consumer and impact.”