Before nearly any sporting event in the United States, one of the traditional customs has been the singing of the national anthem right before things get underway. It has become a more prominent discussion over the last several days, which is an opportune time to dig into why this came to be performed. Without further ado, here is how things came about with the Star-Spangled Banner being part of virtually every sporting event ranging from the NFL to Boxing over the last several decades.
The Star Spangled Banner becomes national anthem
The Star-Spangled Banner has been around for more than three centuries. It has become engrained with United States history since Francis Key Scott wrote it after watching U.S. soldiers raise a giant American flag above Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, during the War of 1812.
The song recounted events of U.S. Soldiers at Fort McHenry withstanding around 25 hours of British Bombardment. That was followed the next morning with them putting a massive flag over the fort, which many consider a significant turning point in the second war for American Independence.
It gathered popularity after the Civil war as it provided a more profound meaning as the United States flag became a symbolic part of the country’s reputation. The song was used for ceremonial purposes in the 1890s as it was played during the raising and lowering of the flag.
It wasn’t until 1916 when president Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order that made the Star-Spangled Banner the national anthem of the United States. Fifteen years later, Congress passed a bill that stated it was the official national anthem.
When the national anthem became a sports tradition
It has become a custom to seeing the national anthem performed at any sporting event over the years.
The first time that the Star-Spangled Banner was played at any sports game was September 5, 1918, during Game 1 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs as was performed by a live military band. It was during the time that World War I while a bomb had ravaged the Chicago Federal Building the day before. It was played during the seventh-inning stretch of the game.
It was received with a strong reaction and performed during the next two games of the World Series. The use of the song was brought forth again during World War II as it was during that time that it was sung before the start of the baseball game, which led to it spreading that tradition to other sports.
In 1945, it saw then NFL commissioner Elmer Layden laid out the use of the national anthem for every game before kickoff as he didn’t believe it should be dropped because the war was over. The NBA also hopped into that tradition while other sporting events such as boxing, hockey, and soccer have adapted that approach over the years.
It has become a customary part of any sporting event that has seen many notable music artists and musicians perform the song.
Kneeling during the national anthem
In the last few years, there has been a pushback toward anyone deciding to kneel during the playing of the national anthem.
It has garnered the notion of that action being disrespectable instead of the interpretation of kneeling as a means of bringing more attention to social injustice in the United States. That has remained a considerable sticking point in the country, drawing a significant amount of backlash.
There is a massive misconception for the kneeling that has never been about the flag or the national anthem. It continues to be a significant discussion around the subject that remains engulfed in conflict.