– Los Angeles
Controversy has erupted over the decision of the National Football League to play the national anthem at commercial ball-based amusement events. Conservative critics have said the dignity of the nation’s flag and anthem are cheapened when used to sell a corporate entertainment product. “What’s next, dive bars playing the Star-spangled Banner before wet t-shirt contests?” said Sean Hannity on his morning radio program Monday.
Football, a flamboyant bloodsport in which large men in colorful costumes press their bodies together at high velocity, is a commercial game based on chasing a prolate spheroid (misidentified as a ball). Statistically, football is as popular with Americans as the theory of evolution, or divorce. “It has everything. Except for balls. Or frequent use of the foot. But it’s a real rush when athletes from another state paid to wear your city’s colors beat the guys paid to wear some other city. God I hate those guys,” said human-billiards fan Mark Collins. One thing more popular among Americans than football, is America. Except on Tumblr.
National anthems traditionally symbolize the ideals and identify of a nation as a whole. Anthem custom encoded in federal law relates substantially to presentation of the flag with a focus on military servicemembers. The poem was first officially recognized as the national anthem in 1889 by the
US Navy. It is typically played at military ceremonies and when the nation is represented abroad, such as at the Olympic games. Yale historian Doris Macabee explained, “the anthem is a way one pays respect to the flag and country. Giving, not getting. Exploiting it for profit or undeserved credibility is crass abuse that ought offend a patriot.”
The NFL has dug in its heels amid mounting protests. Its own athletes, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, have begun actively protesting during games. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement Wednesday to address the controversy.
Nobody is a bigger patriot than myself or anyone at the NFL. Some are questioning how men running back and forth for three hours compares to Old Glory being raised on a military base. Or how men sustaining permanent debilitating injury so that couch-bound people can feel good, is like representing America at a global competition fostering international peace and cooperation. But football is so much more than this, to me. Football is about the spirit of teamwork and competition, symbolizing the unity and strength of America. It’s about creating a product so expensive, almost no Americans can routinely afford it. This gives them a dream to work toward. An American dream. It’s about the joy that men on men in tight, hyper-masculine, costumes bring to our country’s proudly closeted gay men. Repressing sexuality is an ideal our founding, mostly-gay, Puritans fought for. It’s about a private corporation packaging a noble ideal for mass consumption; a flag roll-up, if you will. Doesn’t this make football as American french fries and dutch apple pie? We believe that it does.