Forty years ago, who in the world would’ve guessed the National Anthem would become controversial?
Yet, here we are. The country has somehow managed to make the very symbol of our togetherness emblematic of a great divide.
Nonetheless, in Wisconsin, they’re taking a side.
The nation’s song? They’re for it. And it’s going to be played — at every single sporting event.
At least, that’s the dictate of a new bill.
On Tuesday, the State Assembly passed a measure requiring “The Star-Spangled Banner” before any athletic match held at venues constructed in any part by taxpayer funding.
AB 226 comes courtesy of Republican Representative — and military veteran — Tony Kurtz.
As relayed by USA Today, he believes the song will remind Wisconsinites they’re all on the same team:
“We are a very dysfunctional family at times, that’s for sure — but we are a family.”
From the House floor, he noted the country’s woes:
“And what concerns me, once again to my core, is we are ripping ourselves apart internally in this country.”
According to WISN, the proposal was prompted by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Not everyone was impressed, and he clapped back:
Strong agree. "The National Anthem Police in this country are out of control. If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why they don’t play the National Anthem every day before you start work." @mcuban https://t.co/V7WpL3Oow1
— Nick Gillespie (@nickgillespie) February 10, 2021
Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki got it:
Peter Doocy is Doocying pic.twitter.com/hnx8Kea5U3
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 10, 2021
But for Rep. Tony, perhaps, Mark’s move was a wake-up call:
“We just don’t want what happened with the Dallas Mavericks.”
Now headed for the Senate, the legislation passed in the State Assembly courtesy of a bipartisan vote, 74-22.
Only Democrats opposed.
Democrat Rep. Lisa Subeck wasn’t “sure,” so she voted against:
“As much as I respect our flag, as much as I believe in this country, as much as I believe in our freedom, I’m not sure it makes sense to mandate that it be played.”
USA Today reports she’s concerned about the details’ devil:
Subeck said because the term “sporting event” is not defined in the bill, it could mean that every recreational softball game or pickup game of soccer in a city park would require it be played or sung beforehand and that would be unworkable in some cases.
There were other concerns, as well:
Officials with the Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association in their testimony on the bill said the group supports playing the National Anthem but questioned whether implementation across all sporting events would be feasible.
Rep. Don Vruwink — Democrat and former high school coach — purportedly worried repetition may make the anthem lose its value:
“I want people to think about the words and what is being said.”
But Tony sees it as necessary:
“I strongly believe we need to play it, particularly where we’re at now in our country.”
Nonetheless, he admitted the law would only be symbolic:
“I don’t want to make it enforceable. I want people to voluntarily do that.”
Either way, it seems to me that when a nation can’t come together enough to embrace its own national song, we’re really in tatters.
And if that’s true, it’s going to take a whole lot more than a song to fix us.
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