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SB Nation NBA Reacts: Most Wizards fans as well as fans nationwide don’t want to hear “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a game

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Our national question this week focuses on whether the American national anthem has a place in NBA games going forward, despite a statement from the league earlier this week.

Washington Wizards v Charlotte Hornets
The Washington Wizards are standing before the national anthem of a game last week.
Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

This week’s SB Nation NBA reacts survey gave us some new twists with the Washington Wizards which I will get to in another post later today. But for now, I wanted to touch on the national question, which focuses on “The Star-Spangled Banner” being played before games.

Most NBA fans don’t think the National Anthem should be played before sporting events

SB Nation

Earlier this week, Tim Cato of The Athletic reported that the Dallas Mavericks would not play “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States last Monday and planned not to do so going forward. Team owner Mark Cuban made the decision to do so but didn’t publicize it.

This season, since most arenas, including Capital One Arena, the Wizards’ home, aren’t hosting fans due to the coronavirus pandemic, game operations, including playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “O Canada,” the Canadian national anthem for Toronto Raptors games went on without interruptions. So the Mavericks’ change was surprising,

The NBA ultimately stepped in after some criticism by politicians and mandated that the anthem(s) be played. League rules also require that players stand during the anthems but some players have decided to kneel, at least when the American anthem is played in protest to racial injustice in recent years. The NBA hasn’t enforced the rule either.

How do we as NBA fans in Washington, D.C. feel about national anthem(s) being played?

The results of this survey didn’t break it down by team fans, whether it’s Wizards fans vs. New York Knicks fans vs. Toronto Raptors fans vs. Oklahoma City Thunder fans.

I’ve asked SB Nation’s Reacts team for that, so here is how you, Wizards fans voted: 31 percent believe the the anthem(s) should be played and 69 percent believe they shouldn’t be. This is about the same as the national average.

I voted yes, so I am in the minority on this issue. And I’m fine with that.

In general, I am a traditionalist with the game experience, so I like hearing the national anthems before tip off. But also, being a native of the area and the son of South Korean immigrants may also make me feel a bit more idealistic about America at its best than others, and even when I’ve seen racist things done at me in my lifetime.

Washington is the capital of the United States, home to the seat of the federal government and many military personnel who will put themselves on the front lines for us so we can bicker about little things in life. Things like whether the Wizards should rebuild or not and whether Bradley Beal deserves a retweet so he can start in the NBA All-Star Game.

So if I’m a sucker, I’m a sucker. But I like hearing our national anthem.

Of course, no country is perfect and I have been open about my pessimism about the United States from time to time as the coronavirus pandemic raged on. The NBA’s increased activism movement has helped spotlight the imperfections in our society, including structural racism. But it also doesn’t mean that the United States isn’t trying to become a better functioning multiethnic society as a whole, even given the unrest we have seen in the last year.

Though I believe the anthem(s) should be played, I also believe that players should be allowed to kneel if they choose to.

A lot of the talk on the national anthem is on the U.S.’s. What about Canada?

I am generally curious about how Canadian NBA fans feel about “O Canada” being played at Raptors games since the NBA is a multi-national league.

Like the U.S., Canada is a multiethnic society that has sizable Black, Middle Eastern and Asian groups in major cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. But they have racism and tension in their country, just like we do — or really, any multiethnic or an officially multilingual country like Canada is with English and French. If you are wondering if NBA players have kneeled to the Canadian anthem before, they have.

Also the composition of minority groups in Canada is different than the U.S. For example, there aren’t many Latin American Canadians while Hispanic and Latino Americans make up the largest minority group in the United States.


This is an interesting topic since it blew up this week and was our national question. Do you feel the NBA should continue playing the American and/or Canadian national anthems despite their ruling yesterday? And if the anthems weren’t played anymore, what should be done in their place, if at all?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments. And if you haven’t signed up for SB Nation NBA Reacts, click on the link below!