Sports and patriotic gestures go together like mom, apple pie and the flag, right?
Well, one reporter is causing controversy by pointing out that NBA star, Brandon Roy, who plays for the Portland Blazers, morphs into the invisible man when the national anthem is sung.
Writes John Canzano in the Oregonian, "For two seasons now, Roy leaves the court before 'The Star Spangled Banner' is performed. He waits out of sight, in the arena tunnel, and has a quiet moment of prayer while his teammates stand and honor America together."
I've been to my fair share of athletic contests, as you probably have, where this long-standing American ritual - the singing of the national anthem - takes place. With few exceptions, most people eagerly stand, place their hands on their chests, and look at the flag in the gym/stadium/field. Even when the words to the song are comically mangled by the performer, folks remain respectful.
So, Roy's decision to not stand with his teammates is atypical, as is his explanation. Typically, the arguments against participating in the national anthem and/or not pledging allegiance to Old Glory are the following:
1) the libertarian one which views these gestures as coerced patriotism and eschews the mixing of sport and state;
2) the religious one which approves of pledging allegiance to God or a god, not to a country;
3) the anti-military one where the the flag is seen as a "symbol of oppression."
As we become an increasingly balkanized nation and we struggle to find common ground, these collective patriotic gestures become even more meaningful, less rote, to some. Myself included.
However, this line from the Oregonian article left me cold: "... I worry that the statement he's (Brandon Roy) making is one of individualism."
Reporter Canzano, that is the epitome of Soviet-style thinking.
Oh say, let Trail Blazer Roy have his moment of peace in peace.
Update: Wrote a longer piece - newsfeed/commentary - on this issue. Now that I learned the NBA has specific rules of conduct, regarding the anthem, I tweaked my opinion. Here it is.