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Patriotism and sports are inseparable. But have we lost something important as a result?

Jul 5, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT

American Flag

Howard Bryant of ESPN takes a pretty gutsy tack for a Fourth of July column. He takes on patriotism at the ballpark. He starts by making an observation that, I hope anyway, everyone acknowledges to be valid:

The old conventions of sports leagues and fans coming to the ballpark to escape the problems of the world disappeared when the towers fell. Sports, which were once by demand of the paying customers and the league themselves a neutral oasis from a dangerous world, have since become the epicenter of community and national exhalation. The ballpark, in the time of two murky wars and a constant threat of international and domestic terrorism, has been for the last dozen years a place for patriotism. The industry that once avoided the complex world now embraces it, serving as the chief staging ground for expressions of patriotism, and has codified it into game-day identity.

A dynamic that was supposed to be temporary has become permanent.

But then Bryant questions why we engage in these ubiquitous acts of patriotism and what it all means. And whether doing so in such an obligatory manner has caused us to lose sight of the fact that (a) when we make our patriotism mindless, we lose an essential part of it, which is thoughtfulness; and (b) when we make our acts of patriotism obligatory we take away another essential thing: the freedom of dissent.

And, oh, by the way, sports had long been apolitical and now it’s clearly a place where a certain type of nationalist fervor, however benign in intent, is acceptable. Why, then, is political expression of other sorts so loudly shouted down? Why don’t we want to hear what athletes say about politics and freedom too?

Like I said: gutsy column. But the fact that we recognize such expressions as Bryant’s as “gutsy” sort of makes his point for him.

132 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. dowhatifeellike - Jul 5, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Forced patriotism is best patriotism!

    Seriously, though, patriotism at sporting events is starting to feel like church.

    And don’t even get me started on people disgracing the flag by wearing it.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:02 PM

      This right here!

      “And don’t even get me started on people disgracing the flag by wearing it.”

      Most are completely ignorant of the code/rules.
      And it leads to this…

      “when we make our patriotism mindless, we lose an essential part of it, which is thoughtfulness.”

      • sabatimus - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:06 PM

        That last quote is paramount. And can very much be applied to Capitol Hill.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 6:01 PM

        Right now, anyone and everyone around the Potomac has shit on their hands. They keep lobbing the same terds at each other.

  2. dondada10 - Jul 5, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    It’s the American Pastime. Is it forced Patriotism? No, it’s not. You aren’t forced to stand. You aren’t forced to observe. But it’s there if you want it.

    The Mets/Braves game after 9/11, when Piazza hit the homer off Steve Karsay in the bottom 8th, brought genuine joy to my heart. Was it forced? No way.

    • wonkypenguin - Jul 5, 2013 at 2:50 PM

      That’s the point, IMO. When Sammy Sosa ran to right field with his little miniature American flag shortly after 9/11, it was perfect. And patriotic. And meaningful.

      But if John Buck hits a homer off Drew Storen in the bottom of the 7th on a Sunday afternoon in 2013 after a rendition of “God Bless America,” we would feel none such patriotism, just shock that John Buck hit a homerun.

    • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 2:52 PM

      You mean not singing the National Anthem and being forced to do so at gun point aren’t the same thing?

      Say it ain’t so!

      ( I think forced patriotism, that term, is very much misused. Hell, I might even accept “suggested patriotism” for those who hate such things. No one is forcing you to do a damn thing. )

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 2:58 PM

        I hate being forced to listen to God Bless America, which I never would except for fake patriots forcing it on me.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:04 PM

        Bring earplugs then, silly. Stick your finger in your ears if you’d like. Or, write a letter to the ball club demanding a discount for having to suffer through such a thing.

        Just don’t mistake it with “hail to our country, because the guy behind me will cut off my head otherwise.”

        ( and I’m just gonna watch this thing get out of hand, as usual, over/under on comments? )

      • dowhatifeellike - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:06 PM

        You are right in that nobody is required to participate, but you should try staying in your seat during God Bless America and see how many people instantly look at you suspiciously.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:09 PM

        Cost of free speech. You have a right to remain seated, they have a right to look at you funny.

      • dowhatifeellike - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:12 PM

        Do what everyone else does or suffer the repercussions. Got it.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:15 PM

        You think a few glares from a few people is suffering repercussions? Really?

      • dowhatifeellike - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:19 PM

        Of course not. I was extrapolating your statement into a broader idea.

        These kinds of things are a perfect example of groupthink. Most of the people involved don’t want do it but they feel obligated because ‘merica.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        See, that’s where the problem is with me, using word like “forced” and assuming what other people are thinking.

        I’d like to see a survey done. An entire three game series with one question regarding this, no names, totally anonymous. Empirical data, not heresay. Because my answer would be the same either way:

        I’m here for a ball game, I don’t think about this sort of stuff when there’s $8 beers to worry about. Lower the beer prices, thank you.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:32 PM

        How wonderful! You get to enjoy what you want and I get to be shamed. Yup, American way.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:39 PM

        You shouldn’t feel shamed if that’s your belief. In fact, if you feel you have to explain yourself, which you shouldn’t, but if you do, you can always explain your viewpoint to the people around you.

        Don’t assume you’re surrounded by single minded animals at the ballpark that will rip you to shreds like wild dogs for staying seated. I’m so doing this sit down thing next time to the ball park just to see if anyone even notices.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:46 PM

        I don’t feel ashamed. Others try to shame me. The fact that their efforts at socialization fail doesn’t change the fact that I get judged for not wanting to participate in what I consider gratuitous acts of silliness. I love how your defense still requires that I accommodate your activities.

        Don’t just sit there quietly when you try this. Talk to people, get up to get a drink, or sing “JOBU BLESS AMERICA” at the top of your lungs in protest. I promise you, you will get blowback.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:57 PM

        See, now that’s different. You’re antagonizing. That’s safer in group protests. And they have every right to sing a song if they want. You reserve all the right to ignore.

        All this over a matter of an event lasting a minute or so.

        I’d love to see a survey done, like I said.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:05 PM

        That’s awesome — if I protest, I’m antagonizing. If you force me to listen to it or have to find ways to avoid it, you aren’t. Got it.

        Sans the song, during lulls in play I would talk to whoever I am with or go get a drink or something. It shouldn’t be antagonizing to continue on as you were, if you don’t want to participate. Sitting there quietly while you have your patriotic jollies is an intrusion to me and the fact that you might consider that antagonizing is the point. Next time, maybe I’ll take a protest sign (GOD BLESS AMERICA IS NOT THE NATIONAL ANTHEM!) and let you know how it goes.

      • sabatimus - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:10 PM

        For what it’s worth, historio, I’ve got your back on this one. Even though it’s not a direct comparison, “forced patriotism” reminds me of when in high school I decided to sit during the pledge of allegiance. I got chastised by my teacher for it.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:25 PM

        Historio, do as you feel. Like I said, it wouldn’t bother me either way.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        Of course it won’t — because you are getting to do as you want and I’m the one having to endure it against my wishes. I would never dream of forcing people at such an event to listen to an anti-government rant. It isn’t the place for that. I don’t know why it’s so wrong to ask you to return the consideration.

      • indaburg - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:07 PM

        Luckily, the Trop doesn’t play God Bless Anerica usually during the 7th. Just Take Me Out to the Ballgame, as the baseball gods intended.

        I don’t like it when stadiums play the song every game but I also don’t see the point in getting so upset about it. There are far bigger battles to fight, in my opinion.

      • mondogarage - Jul 5, 2013 at 7:03 PM

        I hate that MLB has given an official patina to what is, in fact, nothing more than an Irving Berlin show tune. It ain’t the national anthem, and in fact, “God Bless America” is nothing “official” in any way, shape, or form.

        I also hate that so many people who’ve never actually served in uniform, presume to tell *me* what’s patriotic or not.

    • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      I’m just curious: Did that run make you feel better about our country or more patriotic or something?

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        That was not an attempt to be snarky, btw. I seriously was asking — because it seems so incongruous with my experience after the Murrah bombing. I was curious where you were going with that.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:22 PM

        “Sitting there quietly while you have your patriotic jollies is an intrusion to me.”

        Really Philiac? You truly/genuinely feel this way?

        Recap (as I understand it)

        You aren’t happy to just sit in your seat while others sing the song as you feel this is an “instrusion” and further…people may stare at you for sitting.

        You aren’t happy to stand like 98% of the other people because damn it…it is fake patriotism. It isn’t the National Anthem…and everyone participating are phonies.

        If this is sincerely how you feel I am very surprised you haven’t found a way to overcome this torture. I mean…you are a smart person. If you truly feel this way (and aren’t just complaining for the sake of complaining)…the beer line, hot dog line, souvenir stand, restroom has your name all over it. I suggest you give any of these things a try.
        After all…this song is sung/played the same time…every time. You know when it’s coming.

      • chacochicken - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:46 PM

        Damn it woman, why can’t you just wear the AIDS ribbon? Look what happened when Kramer didn’t wear one…

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:48 PM

        Yes, Woodpecker, I feel that way — and I resent that I should have to get up and leave because that crap gets forced on me. I just wanna watch a baseball game and I paid for my ticket like everyone else. BTW, they have speakers throughout the park so you’re going to hear it no matter where you go. You can’t escape it. See my above about time and place for things.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        I’m thinking of hiring a marching band to play it in every neighborhood in OK until we find you and then march in circles around your house playing for days 😉

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:51 PM


        FYI, you’d be like the Pied Piper and attract all kinds of a parade.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 6:01 PM

        PS you could just give me all the money you’d spend on that to buy myself something nice. he he

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 6:04 PM

        Like an American Flag all leather jacket?

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 6:51 PM

        I was thinking more like a down payment on a Congressman.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 7:12 PM

        I’ll give Sonny Bono’s folks a call. I hear he comes “dirt” cheap.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 7:16 PM


        /throws peanuts

    • clemente2 - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:17 PM

      Forced to listen and watch. To activities unrelated to commercial purpose for which tickets were bought. By persons who for the most part couldn’t think their way out of a paper bag.

  3. wonkypenguin - Jul 5, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    I would buy one of those 4th of July hats for every team in baseball if it meant we stopped “God Bless America” from ever appearing in a stadium again.

    • thebadguyswon - Jul 5, 2013 at 7:43 PM

      I agree. Its gotten ridiculous. Maybe it will stop if we aren’t at war again someday. Maybe.

  4. aceshigh11 - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    There goes Craig again…hating America first.

    Mandatory patriotism at sporting events is as wholesome and American as Luke Scott’s mutton chops and Ted Nugent’s underaged girlfriends.

    I bet you’re in favor of Sharia umpiring too, eh Craig?

    • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:07 PM

      We don’t already have Sharia umpiring?

      • Old Gator - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:20 PM

        Sure. Islam, like umpiring, means never having to say you’re sorry.

      • mondogarage - Jul 5, 2013 at 7:04 PM

        Only when Angel Hernandez is calling balls and strikes.

    • bigharold - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      “Sharia umpiring too..”

      Well some of these umps do make call that can only be understood by explaining that their burka was on crooked.

    • indaburg - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:08 PM

      Sharia umpiring? I’m dying laughing. This is why I love HBT.

  5. historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    I really hate when journalists make blanket statements that clearly lack any historical knowledge. It is incredibly ignorant to suggest that baseball and the culture around it were politically neutral prior to recent years. If you want to say the tone changed or compare it to other eras where the patriotism was more overt as well, that’s okay. But, to suggest that this is unique today is to be historically ignorant.

    • Old Gator - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:21 PM

      Thank you.

      But, that doesn’t mean that having your day at the ballpark polluted with jingoism is any less obnoxious today.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:29 PM

        No, it still rubs. That never changes.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:30 PM

        Could be worse. Like chanting continuously for 90 minutes among mates that might light you on fire if you stop.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:09 PM

        Hey…I have a very good friend named Jino and he is very patriotic and not at all obnoxious. Until he gets really hammered. Then…he is obnoxious.
        It matters not though…in either of our two examples I think we both will survive.
        Much like those that see you/Philiac/whomever sit down during forced/unforced/genuine and/or fake forms of patriotism.

      • indaburg - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:17 PM

        What I want to know is–why is America so needy and insecure? Why is she forcing me to tell her I love her every couple of innings? Didn’t we already establish love before the game started, the whole spangly banner drinking song? She’s forcing me to tell her again? I can’t tell her from my own will how I feel about her? I mean, I love her, and I want to tell her, but under my own terms. So needy, this America chick.

    • bigharold - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:41 PM

      There is a difference between baseball being “politically neutral” versus generally referenced as “patriotism ”

      Baseball has always been “America’s Pastime”. And, even 30 years ago there was that Chevy slogan;

      Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet.

      There has always been a certain under current of Patriotism in baseball. But, since 2001, it been ratcheted up a bit. And I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:48 PM

        As was certainly the case during World War II…and other times. I think it better to say that the displays of patriotism in baseball wax and wane (as in other areas of American culture), and we are certainly on an upswing.

  6. tanzkommandant - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    It’s lame to love your country unless you are from a country other than America.

    It’s bigoted to be proud of your race unless you’re non-white.

    It’s evil to make money unless you’re a celebrity.

    Etc. Etc.

    • chacochicken - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:27 PM

      Who said its lame to love your country? I think that is an argument you are having with the Scarecrow.
      Proud of being white? I assume you are not referring to supremacy in which case you are confusing that with equality. In other words you are just showboating when you’re already at the top rung of the ladder.
      Evil for non-celebs to make money? Which holy book are you reading that from?

    • aceshigh11 - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:25 PM

      Don’t throw your back knocking all those straw men over, Goober.

      The ravings of you shit-for-brains right-wingers are practically brain tumor-inducing.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:43 PM

        And you wonder why certain folks on the right straight out refuse to even open a dialogue with a leftist on anything. Sure, it was a stupid comment, but your generalization makes me respect you just as much.

      • aceshigh11 - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:16 PM

        So you think idiots who spew lunatic talking points like that deserve to be treated with respect? Do you really think there’s any chance of rational debate with a guy like that?

        I’ve been reading garbage like that online for over a decade…I have no patience for it any more. An angry, dismissive insult is all you get from me nowadays.

        Any time you’re willing to debate the conservative point of view rationally, let me know, because those opportunities are few and far between as of late.

        And it IS a problem unique to the right…there are plenty of liberal nuts out there, but the sheer volume (both numerically and sonically) of factually-incorrect, hateful, angry raving emanating from the right far exceeds that of the left.

        If it bothers you, then you need to marginalize those people if you want your ideology to be taken seriously.

      • aceshigh11 - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:19 PM

        And frankly, you’re a bit of a part of the problem by calling me a “leftist”.

        What the hell does that even mean in 2013 America?

        Republicans have already destroyed the word “liberal” and turned it into a slur synonymous with “hates America”, “is a communist” and “should be summarily executed for treason”.

        So now you’ve gotta reach back in time and pull out an archaic term like “leftist” to insult people with.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:37 PM

        I’ve found, in my personal experience, almost exclusively, that the right criticizes with “morals” and religion, the left with ” intelligence” .

        And in both sides, I see you equally unaccepting. That’s why I used the term, and in you responses, you’re confirming what I already know:

        Arguing with the above idiot would be a waste of my time.

        Debating with you would be lengthy, frustrating, without relent from your point of view, and ultimately would prove, to gain as much progress as I would with your former up there.

        It’s cynical, I know, but until there is a strong set of leadership willing to put their egos aside and talk, that’s my take. I listen to all, and shake my head at many.

      • aceshigh11 - Jul 5, 2013 at 6:56 PM

        I’ve just seen that “leftist” is this new word that conservatives have been hurling around like a shiny new toy ever since Obama got elected, and it makes no sense to me.

        Is a leftist a liberal, but worse? More militant? I dunno…it’s just confusing to me.

        For the record, we’ve both been posting here for quite some time, and I enjoy your sense of humor with respect to baseball and other topics.

        We may not agree politically, but it won’t affect my ability to interact with you here…and unfortunately, I can’t say that about everybody with whom I have political disagreements.

        I apologize for snapping.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 7:10 PM

        All good in the hood, I’m used to being disagreed with politically, because the fringes and the people that don’t care to criticize their own party can’t wrap around their head that a person can be pro choice, anti gun control, fiscally conservative but also socially left leaning in many other areas ( I love the current immigration proposal, but if it goes through and the borders are not tightened, it will be a very long time before I vote left. ) , all the time respecting all religions s long as they understand none of them belong in government.

        Oh, and If I could, I would change Obamacare to the Obama education bill and fix the education system, wile trying to find out just how much money these Universities and Colleges have stuffed under the mattress. They are there to educate, not run like a fortune 500 company.

        So as you can imagine, I tiff with just about everyone on politics. That’s why I’ve learned not to be a name caller. Lots of freaking practice.

  7. chacochicken - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    I’m too busying purchasing costly “capitalist” beer and BBQ to listen to the anthem and too busy pissing out said beer and whatever the contents of my flask in the 7th to hear God Bless America.

    • Old Gator - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:24 PM

      Blindfold test: before you is an ice cold glass of Bud Light, and an ice cold glass of Hatuey. See if you can distinguish the socialist beer from the capitalist beer by taste alone.

      • chacochicken - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:30 PM

        Hmmm, I think they make Hatuey in Baltimore now so I don’t think its going to have the tears of the proletariat finish anymore.

      • bigharold - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:27 PM

        “… is an ice cold glass of Bud Light, and an ice cold glass of Hatuey. See if you can distinguish the socialist beer..”

        This is a trick question. Bud Light isn’t beer. It’s what chicks drink to make it look like they’re drinking beer. The only valid use a man has for “light beer” is to clean the break dust off his rims.

      • mrwillie - Jul 5, 2013 at 6:18 PM

        People who drink light beer, drink because they do not like the taste of beer and like to pee a lot.

    • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      Wait, you go to a ballpark where they will sell to you during the anthem???

      • chacochicken - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:53 PM

        You’ve got buy from the in-stadium restaurant or outside vendors. Stopping a monetary transaction? Please, what is this Mother Russia?

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:59 PM

        My local MiLB park and Arlington won’t sell to you during the anthem. Their workers have to stop during it (and some of them cover their hearts and turn to the TV’s).

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:09 PM

        Dear Lord, nothing stops a transaction up here.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:55 PM

        Clearly, we are better patriots.


      • indaburg - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:11 PM

        The true patriot worships money.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:15 PM

        Wait, is your name Burgie Hamilton? Gah!

      • indaburg - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:25 PM

        Nah, I’m not speaking for myself. I am not at all materialistic; the only reason I would want money is to exponentiate the amount of good I can accomplish. My comment was just an observation. What matters to most Americans is money. Over a decade ago, I had a friend from Italy visit the US for the first time. He wanted to gain an understanding of the US, what makes us tick. I explained to him, “Just learn this phrase: it’s all about the Benjamins.” (Back when Biggie was popular.) More than race, gender, religion, what matters to most Americans is money. If you’re rich, you’re in. Gotta feed that corporate machine–the real owners of our country.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:57 PM

        That’s a human thing, not an American thing exclusively, with some exception, but not a majority.

        Anyone lose a hand yesterday down there, Indy?

  8. dowhatifeellike - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    It would help if God Bless America weren’t a showtune written as a prayer because I have interest in neither aspect. But I guess it wouldn’t be American if we didn’t grab it and mold it to suit other purposes.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 5, 2013 at 7:12 PM

      Even funnier is This Land is Your Land, which is now often considered a patriotic song, with most of the verses ignored. It was a radical protest song with lyrics such as:
      As I went walking I saw a sign there
      And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
      But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
      That side was made for you and me.

      In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
      By the relief office I seen my people;
      As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
      Is this land made for you and me?

  9. skids003 - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Howard Bryant and ESPN are a bunch of hacks. Don’t participate if you don’t like it, but maybe the rest of us are proud of our country and would like to show it.

    • Old Gator - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:47 PM

      If your pride can be expressed via such trivial and coercive channels, more power to it.

  10. uuddlrlrbastart - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Reading the except (I didn’t read Bryant’s whole column), this felt like one of those “this-is-happening-during-my-generation-so-it’s-new” type things. So I looked up the Star Spangled Banner. And from what I can find, it was during World War II that the tradition of singing the Star Spangled Banner before a game started. So to act like there’s some sort of new post-9/11 patriotism in sports seems a little off. You could make the argument that it’s expanded, since many teams play God Bless America every game and others play it during certain holidays. But this is by no means a new dynamic.

  11. rcali - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    Baseball needs to move on from the “God Bless America” song already. It does feel like church, as another person noted.

  12. natslady - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    There is a lot of “patriotism” at Nats Park, for sure. Part of it is “honoring the military.” Yesterday we had the huge flags at the entrance, the Marine Corps marching display, Star-Spangled Banner by the Navy Quartet, Neil Diamond after the third inning, and God Bless America by the Navy Quartet. In between all that they managed to play a baseball game.

    • kiwicricket - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:05 PM

      That is what bugs me and disturbs me about this overly garish practice these days. Why are they ‘honoring the military’ in such fashion?

      • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:27 PM

        Because it’s cheaper and easier than clearing out the backlog of VA claims or getting vets counseling to help reintegrate into civilian life or getting them jobs. Also, it doesn’t jack up your political platform like appreciating public employees or creating a culture of customer service in government would.

  13. Old Gator - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    Marine Corps marching band. The Navy Quartet. Neil Diamond.

    One of these things is not like the others,
    One of these things just doesn’t belong,
    Can you tell which thing is not like the others
    By the time I finish my song?

    • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:55 PM

      /hits buzzer

      Neil Diamond is from New York!

    • kiwicricket - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:58 PM

      All three have a combined similar age?

    • chacochicken - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:10 PM

      The Navy Quartet didn’t murder a guy after a Las Vegas show.

    • kiwicricket - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:20 PM

      The Marching band and Quartet have flesh, bones, souls and are not naturally ginger?

    • nbjays - Jul 6, 2013 at 8:08 AM

      The Gator-approved answer is that the Marine Corps Band and the Navy Quartet didn’t inflict “Sweet Caroline” upon us (that I know of).

      • Old Gator - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        Correct answer! Doctor, give him the antidote!

  14. kiwicricket - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    From what I have noticed from over a distance, the ‘Patriotism’ aspect is overly bundled in with the notion of ‘supporting troops’ who defend ‘freedoms’ etc etc. It’s all just a giant mingled mess of obnoxiousness. That is why it seems to be more apparent in the ballpark.

    Yeah, I could put that more politely, but it is beyond me how some of you can think general war mongering is somehow defending ‘your freedom of speech’.

    Most countries around the world love their nation. I was encouraged to stop work in Thailand at 3pm while the daily national anthem played. What isn’t custom around the globe is to be force fed notions of nonsense which have nothing to do with being proud and thankful of your nation.

  15. pauleee - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    I stand for the National Anthem, to be respectful, and take off my cap, because it seems to be the convention, though I don’t place it over my heart and don’t sing along. I was once told that I should place my cap over my heart (You’re being disrespectful!), but I think I’m being respectful as is. Why is the singer’s over-embellishment of the anthem not seem as such? Or the inevitable fireworks at “and the rocket’s red glare…”? Or the hoots and hollers at “O’er the land of the free…”?

    Don’t even get me started on God Bless America. I don’t think it necessary to invoke someone’s god at a sporting event and I dislike the stares I’ve gotten for not removing my cap for that…showtune.

    It seems earlier in the week one of the Taliban head-honchos demanded the faithful do everything they can to disrupt the 2014 Olympic games, “disrupt” being a potentially ominous word if taken in the extreme. It used to be that we set aside differences to engage in sports and, for a little while at least, make this world a little better place. When things went terribly wrong in Munich, the world was horrified that the real world had intruded during a time when we should all have been at our best. I just wish those who find it necessary to invoke “God” did so for everyone and not just “their” country. It seems to give people the thought that they have carte blanche to do as they wish, in the name of god.

    • sparky1002 - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      Amazing how similar the Taliban are to most of those we label right-wing religious zealots…corporate interests are watching as a means to insure they can blind us with patriotism. They lower our living standards as a means to increase profit margins by exporting american jobs to those willing to work for 10 bucks a day while keeping us perpetually distracted by war (military industrial complex). Many of those “offended by feeding the corporate machine” should also understand the tickets they bought to a ballgame does likewise.

    • mgv38 - Jul 8, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      Same here: I stand respectfully for the NA. I sit during GBA. And I won’t sing along to TMOTTB unless (and until) they play the complete, niftily feminist, version. :-)

  16. Stiller43 - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    “Not participating” doesnt have to be in a rebelious dickish manner.

    If you dont want to stand up and chant god bless america at the top of your lungs, fine, you have every right not to. The only thing that would be expected is that youre polite. Some would take great offense and think that youre shaming youre country (i wouldnt. Hell its more american to publicly dissent something peacefully because thats what you believe), and will be offended. So as long as you know that ahead of time and are willing to suffer through an angry look or two, awesome!!

    I think the “forced” patriotism stuff is way too exaggerated.

    • kiwicricket - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:16 PM

      I would agree in general. But I can recall on an occasion where I was taunted and rude comments directed at me for simply not going along with the S.S.B. Sitting quietly and reading the team info is frowned upon by some it seems.

    • ptfu - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:29 PM

      Not everyone at a ballgame is American.

      • jimeejohnson - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:06 PM

        I would stand for another country’s national anthem. It’s called respect.

  17. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    For me, and this is entirely personal as I was in the bronx at college during that fateful morning in september, I never think of the military in remembrance of 9/11. I think of the first responders, the NYPD, the NYFD, the ambulance drivers and medical workers who rushed into the building while all others were rushing out. I remember the mets playing their first games back with NYPD/NYFD hats on, and as much as I couldn’t stand him I remember Bush throwing that strike to home plate wearing a flak jacket during the WS. I remember the signs throughout the country, and some places the globe, saying we’re with you NY.

    The military efforts came after, and seem a bit contrived to me.

    • dowhatifeellike - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      But how will we get people to enlist if we don’t genuflect to the soldiers at every opportunity?

      • yahmule - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:26 PM

        Certainly not by paying them a living wage.

  18. crisisofinfinitephils - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    Yea if this is what boils your blood, a couple of songs, then you’re probably insufferable human being to be around. Or you need to drum up web traffic.

  19. yahmule - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    Sometimes I feel like I have to do everything around here…

  20. raysfan1 - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Pardon the redundancy if the following points have already been made:
    First, the notion that politics was kept separate from sports until 9/11 is baloney. Anyone who watched Olympiads in 1936, 1968, 1972, 1980, and 1984 knows that. If you want to limit it to baseball, then I refer you to Rick Monday vs the attempted flag burners at Wrigley and also to Jackie Robinson. Keeping baseball alive was even considered part of the war effort in WW II.
    Second, while I will concede that for many habitual displays of patriotism turns it into a rote exercise; however, I dispute that it squelches dissent. I’ve never seen a person in the stands abused for not singing or not having their hand over their heart.
    Third, I’m all for displaying love of country. In fact, to the Blue Jays–by all means, go all out with the Canadian patriotism too.

    • Anoesis - Jul 5, 2013 at 10:04 PM

      Monday’s rescue of a flag about to be burned by bozos was at Dodger Stadium.

      • raysfan1 - Jul 6, 2013 at 4:03 PM

        I stand corrected.

    • Old Gator - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      I saw someone being harassed for not standing for the anthem at a Feesh game at the old Joeprodolsharklife Stadium some years back. When the guy who was being verbally annoyed by the two beerbellied morons in the row behind him reached over and held up his cane, the morons got the message and just stood there looking stupid – which, of course, they were.

      This is the kind of thing that goes on at ballparks. It’s not at all uncommon.You refuse to stand or take off your hat at your own risk. I’ve had assholes turn around or lean over me to say something obnoxious about my not singing on several occasions.

      To say that you have a “choice” about it is only partially true – more accurately, you have a risk option.

      • sparky1002 - Jul 7, 2013 at 11:10 AM

        What else can you expect from “fans” who have the depth of intellect commensurate with a plate of urine? It’s the same ilk who bray about losing their personal freedoms while denying yours, the same ilk who advocate war based on their ability to remain safely out of range. 9/11 shook up that idea of safety and those in charge took the opportunity to play politics with the lives of american soldiers. The first casualty of unbridled patriotism is rationality, be it in war or sometimes even a ballgame.

      • raysfan1 - Jul 7, 2013 at 12:58 PM

        Ah, Gator, if you notice, I did not mention anything about not standing–I have seen people take issue with that. I do not agree with boorish behavior toward those who disagree. Also, all protest entails risk, so my point stands. Protest typically involves disagreement with the majority, with authority, or both. That disagreement turning into action inevitably risks offending those whose ideas are opposed. The freedom choice remains, but it does require a risk assessment. (I will insert a couple asides–1st, I have attended events in multiple other countries, and always stand respectfully when their anthem is played. 2nd, I have risked being fired from a previous job by protesting what I felt to be an immoral act by a supervisor, so I do understand the concept of risk too, even beyond my military service.)

  21. Stiller43 - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    If you view listening to a minute long song as such a hideous, over the top intrusion on your life, idk what to tell ya.

    I would think most go “yeah; its a lil much for but i’ll be polite while others do their thing and were back to baseball!!”

    Its what i do every time someone wants to say grace at a family meal. Just because i dont believe what they believe doesnt mean i have to get up and leave or protest what theyre doing in some way. I sit there quietly and let them say their grace…and then its feedin time! I’d of course rather not have that grace said, but its what they feel is right for them. I’ll let them be, they let me be.

    Your best protest may be not going to the games and giving money to the people who do such a terrible, attrocious act in your eyes. It would solve your problems.

    • historiophiliac - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:13 PM

      How about if we play Nina Simone’s Mississippi Goddamn at every game then. I mean, it only lasts a couple minutes. It’s just a song.

  22. sfm073 - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Patriotism like religion is subjective to where you were born. My views on patriotism is I’m glad I was born here verse a lot of other countries, but if I really look at what we have done since I was born, what am I supposed to be proud about?

    • crisisofinfinitephils - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:57 PM

      What year were you born? Are you old enough to remember internment camps? Slavery? I think that what you’ve seen since you were born pales in comparison to those skeletons. Yet throughout history people have somehow found a way to be patriotic despite past transgressions.

    • kiwicricket - Jul 5, 2013 at 6:24 PM

      Kind of what I was getting at.
      Why the obnoxious OTT nonsense? Does it not occur to the overly-patriotic(mindless sheep) that people of other nations, often 3rd world nations love their country as well?

      What it boils down it, is that people, ALL people, are subjected to 15mins of preconceived, nauseous pomp while trying to watch a sporting event.

      • crisisofinfinitephils - Jul 5, 2013 at 7:27 PM

        What the hell are you talking about? What’s obnoxious is someone like yourself who, probably, considers himself such a world citizen sits in judgement of other people just for the sheer audacity of having an opinion that is different than yours.

      • kiwicricket - Jul 5, 2013 at 9:44 PM

        Why does America NEED to overtly ‘display’ it’s ‘Patriotism’ (completely ignoring the discussion as to why half a dozen things are lumped into this subject) at a sporting event between two Billionaires show-toys?USA vs X,Y,Z….I can actually understand it.
        But it’s somehow essential to be bombarded with ‘ceremonies’ and ‘honoring’ such and such.

        Last time I went to a game I decided to sit quietly, read the team info and ignore the nonsense which is G.B.A. Several people abused me even after they figured out I was foreign. Yeah I have an opinion regarding this, but I wouldn’t say it’s the most obnoxious.

      • crisisofinfinitephils - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:00 PM

        I think you confuse needs vs. wants. Clearly you have a disdain not for patriotism but American patriotism that stems from American policies. And just because it offends your sensibilities shouldn’t mean the majority should cater to the minority. I have problems with going to the ballpark but patriotism and billionaires and their toys are pretty much down the list. But then again if that gets your ire up I don’t know why you like an American pastime that’s run by capitalists.

  23. wgward - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    Look, sports are a form of “combat.” Plus, we are a “warring Nation,” whether folks like it or not, since absent several handfuls of years, we have been a Nation at war since the beginning.

    So, don’t fret. Just enjoy the game. Enjoy the patriotism. Enjoy life.

    • kiwicricket - Jul 5, 2013 at 6:28 PM

      You make immorally/illegally invading other countries and murdering their citizens sound so cheerful and irrelevant. Top marks to you.

  24. ningenito78 - Jul 5, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    And as soon as Bryant was done with the column, he finished his bottle of Jack Daniels, kicked the shit out of his wife, and knocked a police officer on his ass.

  25. ningenito78 - Jul 5, 2013 at 8:15 PM


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