March 11, 2010
For years at Washington Capitals game, the fans would scream out "OH!" when that word was sung in the Star Spangled Banner, a tradition that carried over from Baltimore Orioles fandom. As the team's "Rock The Red" (which has now inspired "Barack The Red") campaign has grown, fans now shout out "RED!" at the appropriate times as well.
So when the Dallas Stars were in town this week, the anthem gained another bit of audience participation from the Big D fans in the cheap seats who shouted "STARS!" whenever that word was mentioned in the lyrics. The reaction from some fans on various social media that night seemed to indicate a level of frustration with anything being said during the anthem.
All of which begs the question: What's your tolerance with the anthem and fan participation?
And can you believe someone actually could take issue with this scene in Chicago? ("O Canada" first)
Coming up, a question of respect.
George Malik of Snapshots captured an interesting rant-and-response between Rob Otto of MLive and David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune over the anthem tradition at Chicago Blackhawks home games. Otto's argument is that the huge ovation that drowns out the anthem is disrespecting the song and the military:
It's something the fans started doing because they were so pumped up before a 1985 Campbell Conference playoff game against the Edmonton Oilers, and have continued it ever since.
And it makes my skin crawl every time I hear it.
I grew up in a military family. My father was a Commander in the United States Coast Guard and he taught me a deep love of our country, and respect for our flag. That includes standing during the National Anthem with my right hand over my heart and singing the words.
I understand it is a very difficult song, and many Americans feel embarrassed to sing it in public. However, if you're not singing you should at least stand in silent reverence until it is completed. The Chicago fans are doing the exact opposite.
This wasn't anything Haugh was about to consider:
To support his contention, Otto cited Title 36, Chapter 10 of U.S. Code. It says, "All present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart."
Full disclosure: I am usually an arms-at-the-sides guy during the anthem. Get the stockade ready. The point is it's silly to interpret those codes literally.
Take Title 18, Chapter 3: "Whoever knowingly creates or possesses a depiction of animal cruelty ... for commercial gain, shall be fined or imprisoned."
Technically, that means Otto's [Detroit Red Wings] violate the code he clings to every time they score a goal and the octopi come flying onto the ice at Joe Louis Arena.
Good lord LEAVE THE CEPHALOPODS ALONE!
From George Malik of Snapshots, his take on the anthem traditions around the NHL:
As far as I'm concerned, aside from booing during the national anthem, different teams have different fan traditions, from signing along to standing mute, finding ways to incorporate their team's name into the anthem, or even shouting out "Probie!" (you know who you are, Bob Probert fan who can't let go). What strikes someone as strange may not necessarily involve any lack of patriotism ...
Indeed. To me, the Chicago tradition is inspiring. The fans screaming different words in the song at other arenas is harmless passion. As long as you're not booing or screaming "Rangers Suck!" while the colors are being presented, it's respectful enough to someone who, admittedly, hasn't worn the uniform -- so perhaps those who have served may feel differently than I do.
Then again, if the crowd's singing a word in the national anthem every few lines, the pregame song's going to feel a few rolls of toilet paper and a water pistol short from being at a "Rocky Horror" level of fan participation. Which is why I no longer plan to name my NHL expansion team this: "Kansas City The" ... because that word appears, like, a dozen times.