I love international sports, in particular I love the World Cup which, if you haven’t been paying attention, is currently holding three networks hostage in order to bring you full coverage of “The World Party”. The World Cup to me is even better than the Olympics in that soccer is the #1 sport in most countries not named the United States or Canada so it’s taking essentially the world’s game with the world’s 32 best teams in a concentrated my country is better than yours winner take all international soccer fest. For soccer nerds, and I am most certainly that, this time every four years is must see TV for the full month of the World Cup because Lord knows after the tournament is over you won’t be getting anymore in depth soccer coverage on US television until the World Cup comes to you again live from Brazil in 2014. The World Cup is filled with nationalistic pride; the stands are filled with the colors of the nations represented on the field of play, there are chants, there are dances, there are songs and there are the National Anthems of the teams…and that’s our topic for the day, kids.
I’m going to go ahead and assume that everyone that might set eyes on this blog has been to a sporting event. My further assumption is that you may have gotten to said sporting event on time – unless of course you live here in Atlanta then you were in traffic and didn’t get to your seat until midway through the first half – and if you got to the arena on time you were asked to remove your stand and remove your hats for the singing of the National Anthem and that’s where things start to go horribly wrong. They announce the name of some upstart R&B or Pop artist or group; they are usually in the jersey of the home team and for some reason think that their way to their bank breaking record deal is to hold 18,000 or so people hostage while they wail their way through a “soulful rendition” of The Star Spangled Banner. I am surprised that Francis Scott Key’s grave hasn’t unearthed itself from all the spinning that he has done in his coffin since the anthem was penned. I have been to sporting events with anthems so long that the teams were allowed to warm up again before the game started. What these “artists” need to be told is that this is the NATIONAL anthem which means that it was meant to be sung by the residents of the nation that it represents, not just some tune that you can go out there bend and shape into something that you feel like singing with a run time of about 7:30PM to somewhere around 7:42PM, it’s the freakin’ national anthem. You stand there, you hold the microphone, you face the flag, you sing the song, and you get out of the way because I’m here to see the game, dammit!
Now please, don’t get me confused with one of these flag waving, Lee Greenwood singing, American flag button down shirt wearing individuals because that’s not me; but I do like to sing and despite this countries problems, racial discrepancies, economic downturns, unemployment issues, and numerous atrocities committed under that flag, I still like to live here. I think James Brown said it best back in 1965 or so when he said,
“America is the best country without a doubt, and if anybody says it ain’t you just try to put him out, he ain’t goin’ nowhere…”
Of course, James had his own private jet and more drugs and women than he could do at that point in time so his view may have been slightly skewed. Anyway, since I like living here, I like to take part in the singing of the anthem but since pre-crack Whitney Houston’s beautiful rendition of the anthem just after the beginning of the first Gulf War everyone that gets the opportunity to sing the Anthem thinks that it’s their turn to wow us. Not so, young Jedi(s).
This is why I love the Olympics and World Cup. You get the sheet music version of the anthem note for note just like you used to get back in the day when TV signed off at night and the last thing they played on TV around 2:00am was the National Anthem. When I was watching the United States/England game yesterday I found it very cool that the teams and their countrymen were singing together, one song, together about and for their nation. Not one person singing their version of the song for the enjoyment others. You sir or ma’am are not the opening act for the game, you are just there to sing the anthem, get on with it and get out of the way. The National Anthem, one song, I shouldn’t have to bring my autotune equipment to the arena to sing along to the freaking Anthem, right? Its one minute and 30 seconds tops, anything more than that is an audition and that’s not what I’m paying for when I get a ticket to a game.
But if we don’t get the renditions then we miss out on gems like Carl Lewis’ horrific attempt, we don’t get another reason to hate Roseanne Barr, we don’t get Jimi Hendrix’s shredded version from Woodstock, we don’t get Marvin Gaye’s version from the NBA All Star Game in Los Angeles. We miss out on all the ones that work and the ones that didn’t but the anthem isn’t for entertainment purposes, it’s not American Idol, it’s the National Anthem, just sing the song and move just like at the World Cup. My word, where is Ike Turner when you need him, “Just sing the song like I wrote it, Anna Mae”.
Then again, the anthem was based off a British drinking song anyway so if it’s been sullied by drunken Britons in the 1700’s how important could it be? Carry on…
~thanks for reading 🙂