Anthem disrespect at games shames nation

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, an average Linfield student attends one athletic event on campus per week.
Baseball, basketball, softball, football, soccer, whatever sport it is, each game is preceded with a two-minute song. Two minutes out of a 10,000-minute week. And during these two minutes, students, parents and others too often find it a perfect time to talk — just in smaller voices.

The song, of course, is the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Written by Francis Scott Key in 1814, the song describes the British nighttime bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. It was not until morning that Key saw the American flag still flying and knew that the American troops were victorious.

These simple words mean so much to our country, yet it baffles me when people leave their hats on their heads and act like the anthem means nothing. Two minutes out of my day dedicated to thinking about those words and my friends fighting for us is nothing.

Call me patriotic, but I would rather be the rule, not the exception.

Soldiers fight for your freedoms. Many will tell you they fight for your right to burn the U.S. flag. As much as I abhor actions such as that, I wholeheartedly agree: that is the double-edged sword of liberty.

To give credit where it is due, last Saturday’s men’s basketball game had the best national anthem I have personally seen all year. Aside from a lively 3-year-old boy, I noticed not one person around me carrying on conversation. Was that so hard to do? Is it so much to ask for? Apparently it is.

This year, I have witnessed some appalling displays of anthem etiquette at Linfield sporting events: Staring away from the flag, walking around, chatting as if nothing is happening and not taking hats off.

It raises interesting morality questions: What is appropriate anthem etiquette? How (and when) do we take care of it? Is it even our place to say anything to others?

As a matter of fact, U.S. Code Title 36, Chapter 10, Section 171, states that those “present, except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart.”

I hold little hope that our country, and Linfield within that, can achieve this measure of respect. And in actuality, I do not expect it either. However, my hope is this: If you do not want to honor the flag or the country that has given you so much, let others do it in peace.

I believe you should let people know when you feel they are being disrespectful during the anthem. If you let them continue, they will never learn. Providing social pressure is the best way to deal with such a situation.

Here are helpful tips I have picked up over the years:

When confronting people who are disruptive during, be careful when and how you do it. If someone is whispering, let them know you do not appreciate what they are doing after the song concludes. Confrontation during the anthem may just cause more of a distraction.

For louder fans who are interrupting your area, ask them to be quiet if you are next to them. You are doing a favor for everyone around you and giving respect back to the flag where it should be.

If you notice someone with their hat on, try to kindly remind them before the song starts. Otherwise, remind them afterward that it shows a lack of respect for the nation.

With basketball games set for Feb. 18, and other sports starting next week, let’s show some respect for our nation and other fans trying to do the same.

Kurtis Williams/For the Review
Kurtis Williams can be reached at

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