About 3 years ago, I had the honor of sitting on a discussion panel during a forum before a live audience at a high school auditorium in South Florida. The topic: "Taking A Knee During The National Anthem". It was held on a Sunday afternoon, so the attendees were adults, not children. Although we all understood how taking a knee could offend many, the overall consensus by the conclusion of the forum was that we live in a country where people simply have different lived experiences. Those experiences spark different ideas about patriotism. How it is earned, and how it is best expressed.
This decision by Mark Cuban to no longer have the National Anthem played before a Mavericks home game is sure to draw fire from the Right. Especially on social media and right wing talk shows. Pageantry posing as patriotism is a bailiwick of that end of the political spectrum. Why do I call it pageantry? Because around 2009, the Department Of Defense began paying millions to the NFL and other sports franchises to play the anthem before games in order to bolster enlistment into our military. They did their own internal investigation in 2015. It showed that the DOD paid $10 million in advertising to several sports leagues, including the NFL. The investigation found more than half of the advertising dollars were spent on what’s been termed “paid patriotism,” like standing for the national anthem. That doesn't make it wrong, but it does make it propaganda.
A couple of years ago my wife and I were invited to a free concert in the park by two friends. A couple we know. The show was great. During the intermission, people were talking, snacking, texting, and generally just sitting around. The band began the second half of their concert with an impressive electric guitar solo of the National Anthem. One of the friends is an Israeli citizen. She said, "Shouldn't we be standing now?" as she began to rise to her feet. Her American boyfriend said, "Nah." I said, "It's not mandatory." As she looked around she saw that it wasn't, and she sat back down. I want be clear about something here, regarding race and region. There were a 400-600 people attending this evening concert. It was held in South Florida, a heavily Right wing, Republican region of the country. I was the only Black person in attendance as far as I know, but perhaps there may have been one or two more. By my observation, only about 6 people stood for the anthem, hand over heart. What did everyone else do? They were talking, snacking, texting, and generally just sitting around. No one insulted or chided anyone else for their decision. We simply applauded the very talented guitarist, and enjoyed the rest of the show and the beautiful evening as free Americans.
We'll always have differing opinions about such things as patriotism and how it's expressed. Mark Cuban, as of the publishing of this article has yet to opine regarding his decision on the National Anthem. My opinion was then, in that live forum, as it is now; you don't buy or enforce patriotism. Patriotism is earned by the behavior of a government and her representatives towards its citizens.