Why the Flag is Displayed
We have all been to a sporting event that began with the national anthem and recognition of the United States Flag. Whether it be at a local high school, community park, or professional stadium, sporting games often start with anything from a solo of the national anthem to a full-fledge performance with massive American Flags.
According to the History Channel, the tradition of playing the Star-Spangled Banner during sports events began during the 1918 World Series game between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. The baseball game took place a day after a bomb had gone off in Chicago, only adding to the national heartache caused by the continuing Great War. The World Series continued to play the anthem at each of its games that year and the practice was soon adapted by other sports leagues around the nation.
Although the tradition started as part of the war effort, sports fans continue to sing the anthem and recognize the American Flag before competition. The American Flag represents enduring principles of this country and the sacrifices that men and women have undertook to make these principles a reality. The moment taken before a game to recognize the Flag and sing the anthem helps fans to remember the history and values that can unite people of various states, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
How the Flag is Displayed
In a sports arena, there may be several Flags: championship flags, Flags from other countries, or conference flags. It is important that the American Flag is flown in the highest, most prominent position among the other Flags.
The American Flag is often highlighted–with lights, fanfare, or other method–when the national anthem is sung before a sports competition. Regardless of the style of performance, the American Flag should be treated with respect and care throughout it. The American Flag is not a prop for an entertaining act but an important representation of this country’s history, values, and people.
How You Should Respond
The national anthem is a time where we come together to honor our country in a unified manner. During sporting events, it is expected that you be attentive when the anthem is playing. Stand, place your right hand over your heart, and sing along or listen in respectful silence. If you are wearing a hat, remove the hat with your right hand and place it over your heart.