A Star-Spangled Mess

The Dallas Mavericks decision not to play the national anthem goes against the entire premise of anthem protests and pushes the wrong buttons.


photo by AP News

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban

Zachary Ludwick, Staff Writer

Once again, the NBA is in the headlines for something that has nothing to do with their on-court product.

This time, it was revealed that the Dallas Mavericks were not playing the national anthem before their home games. The decision was reportedly ordered from owner and Pittsburgh native Mark Cuban. 

Right on cue, there was outrage and support from the two sides of the aisle. Since the league rarely shows the anthem on TV, the move was unnoticed until a beat writer mentioned it in an article almost two weeks into the season. 

The NBA has seen many players partake in social and political discussion and activism. LeBron James, the face of the league, is among the most active in this regard. Players were at the forefront of the protests over the summer and called out the country for its shortcomings. Despite some controversial statements made by players, overall, the league was held in high regard for letting its players take part in raising awareness.

But the Mavs’ decision not to play the anthem is another story.

Protesting the anthem is one thing. I have no problem with those who do so. They are raising awareness of issues facing this country and are respectful enough to kneel–which, in the military, is a sign of respect and humility. However, to completely ignore the song shows none of that. To those who fought for this country, to flat out ignore the sacrifices made is no form of protest — it is simply to create controversy. In a deeply patriotic country, the Mavs’ move was correctly seen as disrespectful. 

Even at a time in our history where we are divided, disregarding a ceremony of unity goes against everything we are trying to accomplish. 

Not playing the anthem was seen as acceptable by some. The rationale behind this was primarily the argument that the anthem does not represent all Americans, and that those people do not need to pay it respect. Personally, I think this is absurd. America is flawed, but to suggest that the country flat out ignore a substantial amount of the population is disappointing, to say the least. 

The national anthem is a way to honor those who fought for our continued existence. Soldiers didn’t fight overseas for just one set of people — they fought for everyone. We must realize that when the anthem is played. 

The NBA immediately stepped in to force the Mavs to play the anthem again. Despite that, some in the league saw no problem with no anthem playing. This is the same league and group of people that got in bed with China when Daryl Morey called out the CCP’s blatant human rights abuses in Hong Kong. With all of the controversy surrounding the league that had nothing to do with the actual basketball, the league knows it can’t handle more controversy.

As America continues its deep dive into the issues facing it, more protests will pop up to raise awareness. However, the respect of those who fought for the freedom to protest must remain. Most demonstrations have accomplished this, but the Dallas Mavericks not playing the anthem crosses a line that has moved further and further from previous norms.