The national anthem has increasingly become a point of controversy in recent years, prompting some sports arenas to forego it entirely before games.
One Florida lawmaker, however, is responding with a bill designed to address the pushback against the Star-Spangled Banner.
Doing business with the government
According to the Daily Wire, Florida state Rep. Tommy Gregory, a Republican, introduced legislation last month aimed at blocking all government funds for sports teams that do not include the national anthem as part of their pre-game celebrations.
Specifically, the bill provides that before the government can enter such deals, all sports teams will be required to present “written verification” that they will play the anthem “at the beginning of each team sporting event held at the team’s home venue or other facility controlled by the team for the event.”
As the Daily Wire reported, Gregory’s proposal is modeled after a Texas bill drawn up in response to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s temporary suspension of the anthem last year.
In a statement to local reporters, the state lawmaker explained: “I haven’t seen any Mark Cuban-type, what I would view as anti-American, protests against our anthem or our flag but I certainly want to make sure that sort of negative activism is avoided, prohibited actually, if they want to do business with the government, and most of them do.”
Sportswriter Tim Cato first covered the Cuban decision earlier this year, writing that none of the team’s preseason or regular-season games featured the national anthem.
“We won’t be playing the anthem”
“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,” Cato explained.
Not only did the team opt against making a public statement, the report found that the decision “was also not announced or explained internally,” though a number of employees said they were independently aware that the anthem was no longer a part of the games.
Of course, Cuban was not the first pro sports figure to advance such a policy.
Fox News reported last summer that Major League Soccer announced its decision to abandon the anthem at its games.
Commissioner Don Garber said at the time: “We won’t be playing the anthem. There’s not going to be any fans in the stands, so we didn’t see that it would be appropriate.”