Fans at this high school softball tournament weren't happy when it was announced that the National Anthem would not be played before the game, so they took matters into their own hands and started singing https://t.co/zelBzLuU4M pic.twitter.com/WpoJexxMlR— CNN (@CNN) May 29, 2018
As spectators in the stands of a California softball tournament on Friday were preparing for another game to begin, they stood up, ready to sing the national anthem — only to be told by the announcer that the anthem would not be played.
Clovis High School and Buchanan High School both made it to the championship game of a tournament being held in Fresno. But, since their game was the second to be played in the day, tournament organizers decided to forego playing the anthem.
Audience members jeered and booed the decision, then took matters into their own hands, singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" a capella style. Video of the event went viral on social media.
Clovis and Buchanan softball about to play for D-I title, but before that, it was announced there will be no national anthem. There were boos and the crowd did this ... pic.twitter.com/M1w6yDzuTN— Anthony Galaviz (@agalaviz_TheBee) May 26, 2018
“It was one of the neatest things I've ever experienced,” Tiffany Marquez, who knows players on both teams, said. “I mean, there I was, standing in the middle of a true testament to unity and patriotism.”
However, those upset with the organizers’ decision not to play the anthem a second time should reconsider their outrage as they were only following what they believed to be protocol for such an event.
“The national protocol is the first game of the session you have the national anthem,” one of the event coordinators Bob Kayajanian explained. “The games after that are just played.”
It's understandable why people are upset about this issue. The nation is presently divided over the topic of the national anthem — and whether it is disrespectful or not for players to kneel in silent protest in professional team sporting events. New rules set by the NFL to punish players for their First Amendment right to free speech have understandably created a strong debate about the topic of the anthem, even though the real issue is about racial injustices that persist in our society.
Respect for our American institutions, including songs like the "Star-Spangled Banner" which are revered by millions, is understandable. So, when fans learned that the song wouldn't be played in the championship game of the tournament, and probably partly because of the national debate on the topic of the anthem itself, it may have struck a few nerves, even if protocol was being followed.
But we shouldn't confuse the national debate on professional players kneeling during the anthem with what happens at local, amateur sporting events. Moments like these, where spontaneity inspires a crowd to display its patriotic feelings, are indeed special ones. There are also times when protest and free speech rights ought to be respected, of course, and those moments shouldn't be dismissed either.
Recognizing that both are patriotic doesn't mean that someone is being inconsistent in their views — and when a crowd comes together to show their love of the nation, it can still be considered a special thing.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: StillWorksImagery/Pixabay