During a high-school championship baseball game on Friday night in Fresno, California, a hapless announcer told the crowd assembled that there would be no performance of the national anthem. According to Yahoo! Sports, the response was quick and visceral, a chorus of boos from the stands that could not be misconstrued or mistaken as anything but derision. The unpopular decision drew an immediate and unexpected response.
With players from the Clovis High School Cougars and their opponents the Buchanan High School players having already taken the field, the audience stood and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” a capella in its entirety. Videos uploaded to Facebook and other social media sites of the event show the crowd, standing and singing in unison. Fox News quotes one participant at length regarding her experience at the game.
“Honestly, I was shocked (when) the announcer stated, ‘There will be no anthem, let’s just play softball,'” fan Tiffany Marquez of Fowler, Calif., told the Fresno Bee
“Within seconds, you could hear people in the crowd singing and the volume of their voices building. There I was, standing in the middle of a true testament to unity and patriotism.”
For the remainder of the games left in the playoffs and perhaps continuing into next season, the national anthem will be played before every game. Yahoo! Sports goes on to describe the response to the impromptu protest.
Event coordinator Bob Kayajanian explained the decision to not have an organized rendition of the anthem planned for the game to the Bee.
“The national protocol is the first game of the session you have the national anthem. The games after that are just played. We got caught (off-guard). Both the teams turned to face the field and they all started singing the national anthem. They started to play some music, and the people took that as the national anthem and they all started singing, which I think is obviously a wonderful thing to show off their patriotism.”
“We try to follow with what normally gets done. It’s all a learning experience for everyone and (going forward) we’re playing the national anthem at every game.”
The subject of the national anthem has become a controversial one for many in the United States. President Donald Trump has publicly stated his support for the notion that the anthem be played prior to sporting events and be publicly respected by players. Following the fracas between supporters of President Trump’s position and those who intended to kneel during the anthem, ostensibly to protest the failings of the United States with regards to race relations, the NFL has passed new policy requiring players, coaching, and support staff to stand for the anthem according to ESPN. In the previous season, embattled NFL team owners were shaken by a net loss of millions of regular viewers, a cascade effect that meant lost revenue from merchandise and ticket sales, writes Forbes.
The immediate enactment of the kneeling policy can only be seen as a direct reaction to mounting pressure from the majority of NFL fans who were displeased with the kneeling players, a poll by YouGov and Yahoo Sports! indicates. There is a notable divide between white and black Americans on the issue, whether or not they are fans of football. 52 percent of white respondents supported the new policy requiring that players respect the flag and anthem, with 32 percent opposed. Nearly inverse numbers emerged as a portrait from black respondents, those surveyed showing 29 percent in support and 48 percent in opposition.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” became the national anthem of the United States in 1931, having been passed by Congress and signed into law by President Herbert Hoover. Previously, this honor was commonly attributed to “Hail, Columbia”, a song now used to signify the presence of the Vice President of the United States, amongst other patriotic compositions.