National Anthem at sports events
The Dallas Mavericks have ceased playing the national anthem before home games this season and do not plan to play it moving forward, a decision made by owner Mark Cuban that he confirmed to The Athletic on Monday evening.
None of 13 preseason and regular-season games played at the American Airlines Center this season have featured the anthem before the game, including Monday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the first played this season with a limited amount of fans in attendance.
The Mavericks did not publicize the anthem’s removal, and The Athletic was the first media organization to reach out about the change after noticing its absence on Monday. Multiple team employees described only noticing the anthem’s removal on their own, as it was also not announced or explained internally.
Cuban declined a request for further comment or explanation Monday evening. The Mavericks organization also declined comment Tuesday.
An NBA spokesperson told The Athletic on Tuesday that “under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.” Other teams have continued to play the anthem at their home venues mostly with recorded video or audio, including games played against Dallas.
While the league’s rulebook requires players to stand during the anthem, the NBA has declined to enforce the rule in recent years, as the anthem has become a method of protest against racial and social injustice, with many professional and amateur athletes kneeling to show support for Black Lives Matter and to highlight systematic racism in the United States.
“I recognize that this is a very emotional issue on both sides of the equation in America right now, and I think it calls for real engagement rather than rule enforcement,” Silver said during a December press conference.
When the NBA resumed its season last year in Orlando, Mavericks players and coaches knelt during the anthem, something Cuban supported. “If they were taking a knee, and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them,” Cuban told ESPN in July. “Hopefully, I’d join them.”
In July, two days after saying he would kneel with players, Cuban tweeted, “The National Anthem Police in this country are out of control. If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why they don’t play the National Anthem every day before you start work.”
The Mavericks are believed to be the first professional North American sports team to cease playing the anthem before games with fans in recent years. As recently as 2017, all major North American professional sports leagues were confirmed to play the anthem before matches, along with NASCAR prior to races. Major League Soccer did not play the anthem during a tournament in Orlando without fans in attendance in 2020, but teams have since resumed the tradition upon returning to their home venues.
I support this. It's a stupid tradition. We will chastise people like Kaepernick that decide to protest by taking a knee but we don't chastise the idiots that scream and yell during the anthem.
I wouldn't have a problem if it was played on tape at a decent tempo. I attend a lot of minor league hockey games and every other singer will do their own version where they take liberty with the melody or drag the fucking tempo out to about half of what it should be.
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