With more athletes joining Colin Kaepernick in his protest against the National Anthem, sports teams are engaging in a game of "Hide the Anthem". Team USA Soccer star Megan Rapinoe joined the fray this month by "taking a knee" during the Anthem before a game with her Washington women's professional league team. She announced that she would continue to do that as long as she felt there was injustice in America. The team decided to circumvent that protest before last night's game--but playing the Anthem earlier than scheduled--at a time when the teams were not on the pitch. The team then issued a statement saying they did that to prevent Rapinoe's "disrespectful display" from becoming the focus of the game.
That practice may become the norm if athletes are going to use the National Anthem as a platform for their own personal protests. There wouldn't be much for Colin Kaepernick to do if the song is played while he is in the locker room with his teammates. Would he or other players come running out in various states of undress just to sit on the bench and make their point?
There is no "law" that requires the playing of the National Anthem right before the start of a sports contest. It could be played before team introductions--when all of the players are lined up in the tunnel--out of the view of fans and cameras. It could be played at halftime before the Frisbee-catching dogs take the field or they conduct the Kick For Cash contest. You could play it right after opening the gates to the stadium, two hours before kickoff.
The National Anthem at sporting events dates back to World War II--and perhaps has outlived its usefulness in today's society. As I've pointed out before, there are plenty of fans who don't take part in the standing, the hand over the heart and the singing along. At Chicago Blackhawks games, the fans cheer as loudly as they can--not so much in a show of support for their country--but to get their team fired up for the start of the game (by the way, that is one of the most awesome experiences and I would highly recommend going to a Hawks game for it). Is that really "respectful"?
So play "Who Let the Dogs Out" or "Jump Around" or "Let's Get It Started" right before kickoff--and give those with grievances (founded or unfounded) less of a venue for their protests.