Is the NBA right to overrule Mark Cuban for not playing national anthem?
- The National Basketball Association (NBA) was established by merging the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League in 1949.
- The national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” was written by Francis Scott Key on September 14, 1814 after watching a battle at Fort McHenry, Maryland during the War of 1812. He was inspired by the “lone US flag still flying at daybreak” despite repeated bombings. The melody was incorporated from an English drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven,” which was the anthem of a men’s music club in London.
- President Woodrow Wilson declared the song to be the national anthem in 1916, but it did not become official until March 1931.
- The national anthem gained more popularity after Game 1 of the 1918 World Series. By the end of World War II, NFL Commissioner ordered it “to be played at every football game” and has since been a tradition for many games across the states.
- Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner, stated on Wednesday, February 10, that he decided to stop playing the anthem before games. This season, the national anthem has not been played before “any of their 13 games at the American Airlines Center.”
- After Cuban’s public statement, the NBA issued a statement saying, “all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy.”
The NBA was right to overrule Cuban’s decision to forego playing the national anthem at Mavericks’ games. The NBA was wise to resist the impulse to trash a tradition in order to grovel to a coddled special interest group (NBA players). The average Dallas Mavericks player receives $8.4 million per year in salary to put a ball through a hoop. Why should we care what NBA players think about our national anthem?
In addition to their exorbitant salaries, most NBA players receive extra income in the form of commercial endorsements (to promote basketball shoes, etc.). Endorsement deals can exceed players’ wages. Last year, LeBron James earned $64 million in off-the-court income, which more than doubled his Lakers salary.
The alleged rationale for Cuban’s decision to nix playing the national anthem prior to his team’s home games was that the anthem doesn’t represent his players. The anthem was written over 200 years ago; it’s a source of national pride and is played at every sporting event (including the Olympics when the US wins a gold medal). We shouldn’t abandon a tradition that’s been in place since WWI (when the anthem was first played to honor our troops overseas) because a group of overpaid athletes in 2021 has a perceived grudge against the country that has enabled them to become millionaires (and their owner a billionaire).
Cuban and his players should be standing and singing during the national anthem to celebrate their good fortune at living in the US. Thankfully, the NBA put the kibosh on what would have been an appalling precedent set by abandoning the anthem.
The NBA turned a blind eye to the recent string of racial injustices that have occurred in this country by requiring each team to play the national anthem. The league needs to do a better job listening to the powerful voices that lead their predominantly-black league. The NBA should allow each respective team owners to lead a conversation within their organization about the procedures they execute in their arena. While the NBA is well within its rights to establish rules about the game of basketball itself, they are in no place to determine how the game is going to be presented prior to it being played.
The Mavericks still fly the flag in their arena and are not intending to disrespect the country. The organization concluded as a whole that they were uncomfortable in performing the national anthem. Players like Meyers Leonard and Jonathan Isaac have found different methods of showing their respects to the flag while also standing by their teammates in the face of racial injustice. It appears that the league would rather listen to outside voices and concerns rather than the voices of their own players that produce them money.
Coming off the heels of one of the most divisive periods in recent memory, the league should be flexible with its standard procedures and show some sensitivity. The NBA is tarnishing its image as one of the few leagues that encourages players to express themselves regarding social justice matters.