Tuesday, June 14, 2022

National Anthem

I follow some sports, but it is not a topic of general interest here and I don't bring it here that often.  When I mention them at all, it is usually because there is some larger issue involved. In this case, it is the infuriating comment by the NCAA about why they have cancelled a national anthem singer, a Texas A&M grad, for making the "horns down" sign at the end of the performance, to show rivalry against University of Texas. 

The performance of the national anthem during NCAA championship events is a solemn moment for reflection and mutual respect for all championship participants and fans in attendance,

No, it's the friggin' national anthem of the United States of America, sung at many public events in this country as a moment of reflection and showing respect for the country. When large national organisations make statements on politically charged topics, one assumes that they ran it by a few people before going public.  And no one, apparently, picks up on the obvious anymore. If they had cancelled him for injecting sports rivalry into that solemn moment I'd approve.  But another major institution, controlling lots of money, lots of lives of young people, and lots of attention, has succumbed to this misunderstanding of the whole point. We complain about institutions "going woke," but that happens because it is downstream of this sort of cluelessness.

One's politics might make one uncomfortable at the injection of nationalist sentiment into events such as sports, which may not be deeply related.  Fine.  But if you are going to go and have the national anthem, have a clue why that is.


As for sports commentary, I have not commented on Lia Thomas because I don't especially care about those competitions or awards.  I have some interest in the general idea of who is being excluded from what, especially as tax dollars from the feds and in every state go to funding it.  But I'm just not that excited, even by the very public symbolism.


What does excite me is the prediction that the NBA has an interest in making playoff series run longer because $, and therefore they slotted Tony Brothers in to referee against the Celtics last night.  Boston is the best team in basketball, but they are only 3-14 in the playoffs when he is officiating.  He doesn't like it that they complain a lot. He's right, they do complain a lot, and it is obnoxious.  Other fans hate them for it and I completely get that. But when you are the referee, that's not your job, and you are paid to do another one. The NBA allows this to go on, and you can see the pattern in your own jobs. Brothers is likely not going rogue, expressing a refereeing philosophy that is not shared by the other officials and the league.  He is just willing to be the lightning rod and take the damage.  The others are happy to cede him that role. They think something similar but get to look above the fray. In national cultural politics we see the same thing.  The people we hate on the other side are likely just those with the thickest skin and greater courage. They couldn't speak if the sentiment were not widely shared.

When a group is acting both independently and together, it works a treat for someone to be the bad guy, protecting the others. It just sucks when the goal should be overall balance, not one person creating a course correction for everyone else.  The Celtics did lose, their coach, the Nigerian Ime Udoka who is very calm and continually counsels his team not to complain to the refs, nearly got tossed after he was the one complaining to Brothers, just after the Celtics had come back and taken the lead, then slowly had it disappear as fouls got called. If the NBA wants to punish complaining and whining - and I think I would want to do that myself, because we do have a couple of whiners - then they should do that, not engage in this dishonesty. They don't want to admit that they are pissed and insulted, so they try to pretend it's someone else's fault. Typical powerul bureaucrat protecting an image behavior.

1 comment:

Aggie said...

In fact, it's so solemn a 'moment for reflection and mutual respect for all championship participants' that we don't mind it when people take a knee to express their social justice views that denigrate society and insult us based on our race, nor do we mind it when mediocre boys decide to compete against girls so that they can easily win, thus salving their fragile egos at the girls' expense, in a socially-justified sort of way. Yeah, we get it: That kind of respect.