O Say ‘Can’t’ you see?

Mavericks face backlash for not playing National Anthem before games

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Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, made the decision to not have the National Anthem played before thirteen of their preseason and regular season home games. Cuban said that this decision was made after having conversations with people who felt as though the anthem “did not fully represent them.”

Cuban also said that the decision was made after speaking with Adam Silver, the Commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA). According to Cuban, there was never any policy saying that the Mavericks would not play the National Anthem, but it just naturally happened at the start of this season. In the past, Cuban has been supportive of players kneeling during the anthem.

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy tweeted in support of Cuban’s decision, saying “This should happen everywhere. If you think the anthem needs to be played before sporting events, then play it before every movie, concert, church service and the start of every work day at every business. What good reason is there to play the anthem before a game?”

Willie Cauley-Stein, a Mavericks player, praised Cuban for not focusing purely on the business aspect and standing firm in his decision to take a stance on the issue, saying “he’s not scared of what’s being talked about.”

Despite the kind words from Cauley-Stein and Van Gundy, the decision to skip the National Anthem was not a popular one with everyone around the Lone Star State.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick recently announced that one of his top priorities this legislative session would be requiring the National Anthem at “all events which receive public funding.” Patrick called Cuban’s decision “an embarrassment to Texas.”

Dustin Burrows, a member of the Texas House of Representatives, shared a similar sentiment with Patrick, tweeting “The stadiums, subsidized by the taxpayers, which host the Mavericks should either condemn [Cuban’s] anti-American decisions and override him; or, return all tax subsidies they have received.”

On Wednesday, Drew Springer, a member of the Texas Senate, filed a bill targeting tax breaks in the business taxes by professional sports organizations.

Mark Geragos, the attorney who represents Colin Kaepernick, said that the policy “should be [discussed] as opposed to being a mandate.” Kaepernick filed a collusion grievance against the National Football League (NFL) in 2017 after kneeling during the National Anthem during the 2016 season. Kapernick and the NFL ultimately reached a settlement.

However, the Wednesday after The Athletic discovered that the Mavericks had stopped playing the National Anthem, the NBA released a statement restating its policy that all teams must play the National Anthem before games, saying “With NBA teams now in the process of welcoming fans back into their arenas, all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy.”

According to NBA policy, players are also required to stand for the National Anthem, but Silver has not enforced that policy.

Cuban responded to the NBA’s statement by pleading for more sympathy on the issues of racial justice in America.

“Going forward, our hope is that people will take the same passion they have for this issue and apply the same amount of energy to listen to those who feel differently from them.”