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Great Scott! Francis Key would be amazed.

Dave Randall

Posted on September 24, 2017 16:49

3 users

The amateur poet's 1800s paean to battle creates fireworks in 2017

Most of us Americans, as children, regardless of race or religion, were taught to remove our hats, and hold our hands over our hearts during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner." We were taught the words, written by Francis Scott Key. It's elementary and, like all childhood behavior, learned. It's as adults that we come to our own conclusion that reverential behavior is earned.

To protest during the anthem is not a new occurrence. Tommie Smith and John Carlos finished one-two in the 200 meter dash during the Mexico City Olympics, in 1968. On the victory stand, after accepting their gold and silver medals, they bowed their heads and thrust their black-gloved fists into the air during the anthem. It got them kicked out of the games and treated like pariahs for years.

Less well remembered was what happened in Munich, four years later. Vince Matthews and the late Wayne Collette went one-two in the 400 meter, and chatted while the anthem played. When asked why they did not stand at attention, Collette told Howard Cosell, "... because it's like White America's attitude toward Black ... total ... casual ..." The hue and cry was not nearly as fierce, though the events seemed to form parentheses around the era of Vietnam, the Black Power movement and the Nixon administration. 

A couple of peculiar things happened between those two incidents and quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to take a knee during the national anthem last season. Public address announcers at all sporting events began asking attendees to "Please rise and remove your caps for the playing ..." A reminder? Fans young and old, male and female, all colors, were dawdling during the anthem, wearing hats, talking. It was obviously noted by sports leagues, hence the announcements. 

Radio and TV outlets, local and national, with the exception of the year following 9/11, and events like the Super Bowl and World Series, began running commercials on air instead of the anthem. There were no complaints. To this day, that policy continues. As long as broadcasters can sell the time, the anthem is not necessary to air.

That brings us to Mr. Kaepernick, whose greatest sin may have been his timing - protesting the anthem during the most volatile, contentious presidential election in over a century. He became a talking point for conservatives, and an albatross for the NFL. Ratings declines were blamed on his taking that knee. He's currently out of work. It's the players who have knelt in solidarity who have ignited the demagogic fury of President Trump, via tweet, and in front of a crowd of acolytes in Alabama, September 22. 

To see what happened in stadiums, the following Sunday, was amazing. Owners, players, coaches, mostly arm-in-arm, took umbrage with what can be nothing more than the president's cynical use of Kaepernick's protest, as kerosene to inflame the hostility of his political base. Ironically, the unity of the NFL's response was as stirring as the anthem itself.

Dave Randall

Posted on September 24, 2017 16:49

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Source: Yahoo Sports
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Supporters of quarterback Colin Kaepernick came out to picket in front of NFL headquarters Wednesday afternoon to show they...

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