Those of us who enjoy college sports beyond football, basketball and baseball understand that these “minor sports” teams have to generate a good deal of their own excitement. The cameras are rarely there and the crowds, such as they are, generally are more subdued.
Watching the NC State at UNC Swimming & Diving matchup Friday, the cheerleading by swimmers and divers was understandably on display. It was the last time the two teams would compete against each other for a number of seniors so excitement was high. There is nothing wrong with the enthusiasm – in fact, it was nice – but that enthusiasm shouldn’t extend to the national anthem.
The NC State swimmers and divers, not singing the anthem, yelled “RED” when the line “And the rockets’ red glare” came about. Then at the end, instead of singing “And the home of the brave,” the State swimmers and divers thought it was cool to change the lyrics to “And the home of the WOLFPACK.”
We’ve all heard pockets of fans do such things at ballgames, which is bad enough, but for the athletes of a school to do it, and evidently as a matter of course, that’s particularly unacceptable.
Unlike the Mexican soccer fans, who intentionally and classlessly disrespect the U.S. national anthem by booing, blowing air horns and cheering for bouncing beach balls, the Wolfpack athletes aren’t purposely disrespecting the anthem. Yet, they still are doing just that.
There is actually U.S. code that dictates the way American citizens should conduct themselves during the playing of the national anthem. It reads, “(A) all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart; (B) men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and (C) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note.”
So, even if you don’t want to be proper, you should at least refrain from cheering for a team during the singing of the national anthem. It’s not an excuse to cheer for one team or another, it’s a time for fans of both teams to come together as Americans to honor our country and the freedoms it affords us.
Unfortunately, some take those freedoms to mean that it’s OK to act like jackasses during the singing of the national anthem. NCSU athletics director Debbie Yow should make it clear to Wolfpack athletes that it’s not OK.
By the way, the 16th ranked UNC men’s team squeaked by the 21st ranked State team by 10 points to improve to 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the ACC. State falls to 5-4 and 3-2 in the league. The 9th ranked UNC women easily handled the 21st ranked State team to improve to 8-2 overall and 2-1 in the ACC. State drops to 6-4 overall and 4-2 in the league.