I know I said in my last entry that loving one's country is good. And I don't want to do away with national anthems being sung at sporting events, but come on! Isn't it going a bit too far these days? I am watching "Pride" right now on TV. It's one of the many full contact fighting organizations that have become so popular. The final in this tourney is between a guy from America and a guy from Upper Slobovia or someplace like that. Like most of these big full contact events, it is being held in Japan. So why the hell did everybody go silent and put their hands on their hearts while the U.S. and Upper Slobovian national anthems were played? Evidently the two combattants wish to break each other's bones, slap each other silly, make each other bleed, ideally knock the other out or make him submit...for the glorification of their countries. Then immediately following the fight, the victor will thank God for allowing him to go Old Testament all over the other guy's ass.
The Slobovian beat the American if you care. The American guy tapped out ostensibly to pick one of his eyeballs off the canvas. What a great county Slobovia is! I must go there someday. To the upper part anyway.
I just chatted with my brother. He lives in Ohio now. He's all excited about going to the Columbus Blue Jackets' opening day game against the Vancouver Canucks. Before they face off, the U.S. and Canadian national anthems will both be played. Although hockey has taken the place of lacrosse as Canada's true national sport, this doesn't make much more sense than singing before the Pride fight. In fact it might make less sense when you consider how many Americans/Canadians play for the two teams. The Canucks have 11 actual Canucks on their roster, which is over half their players, so it kinda makes a bit of sense to play the Canadian anthem for them. But how does that make the 4 Swedes, 2 Fins, 2 Czechs and 2 Americans feel?
On the other hand it makes absolutely no sense to play the American national anthem for the Blue Jackets. They have 5 guys from the States on their team. 5 Czechs, 3 Russians, 3 Swedes and also 11 Canadians.
If you do some research you'll find that the make-up of most NHL teams is similar to these two. I don't see any more purpose in the national anthem than I do in, say, throwing salt into the ring before a sumo match. But I guess it's tradition. And if you absolutely MUST sing a national anthem before such a fiercely nationalistic action as a professional hockey game, then it really should be the Canadian national anthem only, shouldn't it?
I guess my point, the gist of my message, the summation of my ramblings, the central message here, the destination to my journey, the consummation to my intercourse, ahem would be why do we have to hear the U.S. national anthem so often even though there seems to be no real purpose for it? Admittedly in baseball, basketball or football the majority of players are American, but still, what is the connection between national pride and sports? Why was the national anthem sung in the first place and why do we still do it today? Is it just tradition? I think it's probably more than that.
I was recently watching Jay Leno and on Jay Walking he asked some people to sing the U.S. national anthem. I was shocked at how few of them knew it. And Jay said he didn't just pick the dumb ones to put on the show, he showed them all. I think there was one guy out of about 10 who sung it right. He and Jay sung it together and at the end they both said, "Play ball!" I could sing the U.S. national anthem word for word. Only because I watch sports.
I got to thinking. I do that sometimes. Usually about things as inane as this. Who would benefit from keeping sports fans nationalistic? Why are they forcing us to show our national pride at sporting events when we don't even do it in schools any more. Then it hit me. Like a Junior Seau tackle. Like a Gordie Howe elbow. Like a Nolan Ryan fastball. Like a Shaquille O'Neal backboard shattering dunk.
Think about the people you generally get at sporting events. I mean aside from Canuck or Leaf games, which only corporate types and millionaires can afford now. I mean most other sporting events. I guess I'm talking about U.S. sporting events. What kind of folks show up for the games? Tailgate barbecuers, face and body painters, shirt removers, nacho eaters and beer chuggers. The down to earth people. Not many members of MENSA. Not many desk jockeys or pencil pushers. Not many socialites sipping champagne. Not many, (to use a term George Bush Jr. favours), "haves".
A lot of the people in the stands have physical jobs. A lot of them understand teamwork. A lot of them have actually played the sport they are watching and still do as an excuse to quench their thirsts with the boys afterwards. A lot of them are still in good physical shape. Almost all of them know the national anthem. They are good at marching in large, neat groups to their seats. Most of them are with their teams win or lose. They're behind them no matter what. They don't understand everything behind the coaches' decisions to trade players or sit them on the bench but they trust the coach. They may complain a bit but they trust the coach. Their's is not to reason why. Their's is but to cheer or die!
Soldiers! Perfect military training! These are the people who are best suited to defend the "haves" in times of war. Forget "haves", I'm gonna call them what they are: Big Brother. Big Brother is training you sports fans. Think about it. In most sports there are techniques that translate beautifully into wartime strategies or assaults on the enemy. Some sports terms actually COME from war. The "blitz" for example. Long bomb. Defence. Launch an offensive. In the trenches. There are too many to list.
How easy would it be to replace that beer dispensing hoser hat with a kevlar helmet? Or that number one foamy finger with a rifle? Or that face paint with camouflage? Or that coach with the President?
So now you know American sports fans. Even though you're not in the military, you are being trained for it. Like it or not, you are a lean, (okay maybe not as lean as you once were), mean, fighting machine primed and ready to be used just in case. Your sports teams are forcing you to sing the national anthem to sharpen your nationalistic fighting edge. To make sure the red, white and blue isn't fading. Here's what I have to say about that: Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light what so proudly we hail at the twilight's last gleaming.... What are you gonna do, change the game???