Words by Mike Weisbecker, USAF Ret.
The Los Angeles Angels set off a controversy recently. In an effort to keep the folks coming into the ballpark they instructed ticket takers to keep pressing on, even through the National Anthem.
Major League Baseball mandated the use of metal detectors and more stringent bag inspections at all of their member ballparks this season. Stories flooded in about the delays of folks getting in and missing the first innings due to the delays. So the Angels asked ticket takers and gropers, err, inspectors to keep working for that whole 1.5 minutes (give or take 30 seconds for Mariah Carey-like wailers)…
The social media indignation was sure and swift against this.
Here is my take on it. Doesn't matter.
My attitude is that the Anthem is for the people in the seating area of the stadium. Think about when you attend a basketball or ice hockey game. If you are out in the concourse you can hear the Anthem but life pretty much goes on in the concourse. The main arena seating area is another room, let’s say. It’s just better defined due to the nature of the building than it is in a baseball stadium. When I am in the concourse when the anthem starts, I wait at the entry, quietly. I stop others from entering during the anthem, sometimes enduring glares. I just return that with my best senior NCO “really?” glare. Just ask the head of this website about that glare sometime, I used to be his boss. In the military when Reveille or Retreat gets played but you can hear it in your office, say through a window, do you stop what you are doing? No… you probably don’t. You keep plugging away on whatever useless PowerPoint your chain of command deems is critical to the defense of our nation, (because using the wrong font or background shading will allow the philistines to storm the Arsenal of Freedom).
I’d rather we educate folks to actually remove their hats for the song. To stop making explosion noises when the word rocket or bomb is sung. And for God’s sake, please stop inserting your team’s name in place of the word “brave” at the end of the Anthem. Really. Stop that. When the Air Force Academy football team played the University of Oklahoma Sooners, the head coach had to record video and audio messages that were played, starting a week before the game, to not bellow “SOONERS” in place of “brave“ during the anthem as it was disrespectful, especially when playing one of our service academy teams.
We as military members and veterans need to educate the public on what is the right way to show respect to the flag and nation. We are able to be fans of many things here because of the protections in the Constitution. The flag and anthem are physical representations of that document. But we don’t need to bludgeon folks to death with more rules because of a baseball stadium’s unique architecture.
What do you think? Is the stadium seating area a separate “room” or, if the anthem is within ear-shot, should you pay respect?
My opinion: Keep Turnstiles Turning