Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sports God

I love most professional sports, including college athletics, and I attend maybe 40-50 events a year. But it is getting less and less pleasant because the various leagues have mandated that sports contests become orgies of patriotism, invariably of the right wing variety. At major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, the game cannot start until a flyover of military jets.

I have no problem standing for the national anthem – which, by the way, is usually painful because some would-be American Idol insists on taking a song played by military bands in one-minute, 10 seconds and contorting it into a three-minute caterwaul.

What I do mind is a voice over a public address system commanding tens of thousands of mindless automatons – as a condition of the game actually proceeding -- to stand and listen to a variety of jingoistic jingles. Major League baseball requires a break during the 7th-inning stretch on Sundays and other special games to have people sing “God Bless America.”

What is the objection? Well, for one thing it is not the national anthem and never should be. Second, I believe God did not bless America, nor should he/she. (I am reminded of Chris Rock’s line in a movie in which he is president of the United States and implores God to bless America – and no one else.) Third, God has no place in sports, though athletes act otherwise, as if God propelled them into the end zone but then abandoned them when they were tackled for a loss. Fourth, GBA is only used to promote a right-wing agenda.

(Did you know that Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” a song played at more progressive events, wrote it specifically as an answer the Irving Berlin hit sung by Kate Smith in 1939? A time, of course, when mass rallies and blind obedience to public address announcements were in their heyday in places like Nuremberg.)

Today, in Baltimore, home of the “Star Spangled Banner,” 70,000 were told to stand to listen to something that God would certainly not bless if he/she had any musical taste. It is an abomination by a third-rate country and western performer whose career was in the toilet till in the early 1980s when he performed the atrocity called “God Bless the USA.” Everyone has heard it, almost daily since 9-11. I first heard it while covering Ronald Reagan’s re-election, when it became his de facto campaign song. Is is terrible music, nauseating treacle and, if you listen careful, asks people to “God Bless American.”

No doubt most sports fans, screaming their lungs out for violence at football and hockey games, or yelling, “kill the umpire,” are soi-disant patriots. To me, they are just political tools.

The only saving grace is that when I have remained the only one in the stadium sitting down for GBA and GBTUSA, only once did anyone say anything about it. So I threatened to punch his fucking lights out.


  1. Anonymous7:02 PM

    Hmmmm... I'm not sure about this post. I'm not exactly sure what your beef is with "God Bless America." I would hope that God blesses all countries. And I certainly believe he has blessed America. And I'm curious, how do you feel about the pledge to the flag, especially the line "one nation under God?" Just trying to figure all this out... it's definitely a thought provoking post!

  2. Irving Berlin did not write "God Bless All Countries." If he did, and if He did, then there would be no godless satanic heathens going to war with each other.

    I am curious as to why you believe God has blessed America. To me, that notion is the basis of Manifest Destiny, and it makes us kind of arrogant -- just a little!

    I am old enough to have said the pledge before 1954. "Under God" is not only still alien to me, but downright offensive.

    When I was in 7th grade, and a budding anticommunist, I participated in a home room vote as to whether to say the Lord's Prayer and the Pledge. (It must have been right after the first Supreme Court decision.) I kept looking down finishing old homework and raised my hand against, thinking it would give us more time to do homework if we didnt have to say those things. I was the only one.

    Classmates, LED BY THE TEACHER AND THE PRINCIPAL, called me a communist troublemaker and I was pushed around by other kids for a year. This was in a liberal neighborhood.

    So the pledge not only means nothing to me -- how one can think any required pledge has meaning is beyond my powers of reason -- but it is an aggressive act of ramming religion down people's throats.

    Am I religious, you might ask? I have had in my childhood more devout religious training than most people reading this blog, and I have a set of beliefs about man and God, but they are nobody's business. Certainly not the state's. And certainly not THIS theocratic state run by Christians who believe that when the trumpet sounds, I will be asked to accept Christ or be killed.

    Hope that answers your question.

  3. Anonymous12:20 AM

    Well, it answers one, and raises more. But again, very thought provoking! Thanks!