Saturday, May 25, 2024
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The National Anthem is More Important than Any Game



Caitlin Clark, the Iowa basketball superstar, has broken a multitude of scoring records this year. Her success has also led to record-breaking viewership for women’s college basketball on ESPN. In fact, Iowa’s victory against the University of Connecticut in the Final Four semi-final was the highest rated basketball game of all-time on ESPN.

Because of her incredible success, Clark and her Iowa teammates have become America’s team this year. However, another reason for Iowa’s popularity is their reverence for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Prior to their highly anticipated rematch with the LSU Tigers last Monday night, Iowa players were on the basketball court holding hands and singing the national anthem. While Iowa’s players were honoring their country, LSU players were in the locker room, as they have been for every game this season and for last year’s national championship game.

Unfortunately, LSU Women’s Basketball Coach Kim Mulkey claimed she was unaware of when the national anthem was performed. According to Mulkey, “Honestly, I don’t even know when the anthem was played. We have a routine where the team comes off the court at the 12-minute mark and we do our pregame stuff. I’m sorry, listen, that’s nothing intentionally done.”

Her response was not well received by Louisiana’s new Republican Governor, Jeff Landry. He tweeted, “My mother coached women’s high school basketball during the height of desegregation, no one has a greater respect for the sport and for Coach Mulkey… above respect for that game is a deeper respect for those that serve to protect us and unite us under one flag!”

Landry also tweeted his proposal to solve this problem, “It is time that all college boards, including Regent, put a policy in place that student athletes be present for the national anthem or risk their athletic scholarship! This is a matter of respect that all collegiate coaches should instill.”

On Tuesday, Landry sent a letter to the state’s Board of Regents asking them to design new policies mandating that student-athletes show respect for the national anthem. If not, the Governor wants their athletic scholarships revoked.

Landry wrote, “By choosing to miss the National Anthem, the basketball team showed a lack of respect not only for the values of our country, but for the individuals who hold these values dear in our State and across the country.”

Note to athletes, displaying respect for our country is more important than any game or sport. Yet, the problem is much deeper than just the LSU Women’s basketball team. As observed by Baton Rouge sports journalist Chessa Bouche, neither the LSU football team nor the men’s basketball team have been “out” for the national anthem throughout the year. She tweeted, “This wasn’t a one-time incident.”

Fortunately, LSU football coach Brian Kelly said that he would be willing to change his pregame procedure to show respect for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In an interview with The Advertiser, Kelly said, “If our administration wants us out there for the national anthem, we’re going to stand proudly for the national anthem.”

Coach Kelly, it is not just your “administration” that expects your team to show respect for your country, it is your fans, your alumni, the proud veterans who live in Louisiana and the 4.6 million citizens of the state.  Louisiana is a very patriotic state with citizens who love their country and proudly show their patriotism. All athletes lucky enough to represent Louisiana should show the same level of patriotism toward our country.

Kelly noted that in “33 years” as a coach, he has only been on the field for the national anthem a few times. Kelly has coached for several different universities, so the disrespecting of the national anthem is a widespread problem across college athletics.

For example, neither of the other teams in the Women’s “Elite Eight” basketball game last Monday night, the University of Connecticut, nor the University of Southern California, were on the court for the national anthem.

The disrespecting of the national anthem is nothing new; however, it intensified in 2016 when the antics of NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick were noticed by the media. He made headlines for sitting, then kneeling as the national anthem was performed.

Kaepernick said his actions were in protest of “police brutality” and “social injustice.” To show his ignorance, Kaepernick wore a t-shirt honoring Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, a mass murderer, and socks depicting police officers as “pigs.”

Today, Kaepernick is a full-time social justice warrior and is no longer an NFL player. General Managers have correctly analyzed Kaepernick as a quarterback with some talent, but as a divisive force who would be disruptive to any team.

Now that Kaepernick is no longer an active player, athletes at all levels, collegiate and professional, should return to paying respects to the country that has given them so much fame, fortune, and opportunity. Standing in attention for “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not a major sacrifice. It should be incorporated into the pregame preparations for every team. In fact, respecting our country’s symbols and traditions should be the most important pregame preparation for any athlete.

As Governor Landry said in a Fox News interview, college athletes should “respect the flag” and “respect” our military who “go out there and protect us.” To do otherwise is “disrespectful in and of itself.”

Landry stated that athletes who “don’t like it, well, guess what? You don’t have to play the sport.” The Governor is right, it is a privilege to represent Louisiana as an athlete, and, in return, it is expected that respect for our country be displayed.

Landry continued, “it’s unfortunate that LSU was not there at that…time. Iowa was on the field…highlighted the…problem. And what we’re going to do is work in Louisiana. Say, ‘Listen,’ college athletes need to understand that in order to be truly united, in order to truly have civics and civility, we all need to be united under one flag and respect that anthem.” Well said Governor.

Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award-winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs Saturdays from Noon until 1 p.m. CT nationally on Real America’s Voice TV Network AmericasVoice.News and weekdays from 7-11 a.m. CT on WGSO 990-AM & Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America’s Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on Crouere.net. For more information, email him at [email protected].