Do I have a solution for the NFL’s national-anthem crisis? Of course I do: STOP PLAYING IT. But we’ll get back to that in a moment.
Frankly, it cheapens “The Star-Spangled Banner” to blast it out before every athletic contest. We would have a greater appreciation for it, and perhaps give more serious consideration to it, if we heard it only on special occasions. Like…
The Fourth of July and Memorial Day.
The Super Bowl.
World Series Game 7.
The opening of a new Chik-fil-A.
A delayed divorce hearing.
When we obligingly and robotically stand for it day after day, it becomes like a top 40 song on an endless loop in which we immediately recognize the music but don’t really absorb the message.
As for NFL players vis-à-vis the national anthem, they are sending their own message about America; these athletes are trying to shine a light on social injustice. You might question their choice of platforms, but it’s hard to question the facts they are pointing out, in regard to pervasive, unfair police treatment against people of color.
I did not grow up black in America – boy, my parents would’ve been out of sorts – so I can’t speak to the injustices first-hand, but I can speak to the words of two cherished documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Declaration starts by declaring, “We hold these truths self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and the Pledge of Allegiance ends “with liberty and justice for all.” All men are created equal? Well, unless you are someone’s personal property. And when they say men, they definitely mean only men – actually, white men – because women couldn’t even vote for another 140 years.
(I hate to state the hidden-in-broad-daylight obvious, but Thomas Jefferson, among others, was the original founding-father white supremacist. Unless slaveholders somehow don’t count as white supremacists.)
Now, I might only be right 50 percent of the time predicting winners of NFL games, but I am right almost 100 percent of the time in identifying hypocrisy and hooey in U.S. history.
Anyhow, as far as patriotic songs go, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not even in the top five. I prefer “This Land Is Your Land,” “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Born in the U.S.A.”
In fact, if we insist on kicking off games with a song, let’s go with something stirring, rousing and heartening.
Couch Slouch nominates “The Twist.”
If you look up the lyrics of the original recording, you’ll note that 13 NFL cities are mentioned in the song, plus one former NFL town.
Chubby Checker’s 1960 version reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts. The song is ranked No. 451 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Uh, 451? Are you kidding me? Find me 450 songs better than “The Twist.” Go ahead, I’ll wait.
It’s an upbeat masterpiece. “The Twist” makes “Happy” sound like “Cat’s in the Cradle.”
Here’s a sample stanza:
They’re twisting in Cleveland/ In Kansas City too/They’re wailing in Warwood*/ In Pittsburgh and St. Lou/So, baby, get ready/ I’m gonna twist with you
(* This might be referencing Warwood, W.Va.; I researched this for 78 minutes, even getting off the sofa and looking out the window, but could not ascertain an exact answer.)
Players, who did not even take the field for the national anthem before 2009, would have multiple options on the sideline when “The Twist” is played.
1. Stand at attention.
2. Kneel. Is anyone really going to be offended if a player takes a knee? There is no disrespect possible here for the flag, the military or our nation; at best, it is a silent protest of dancing.
3. Do The Twist!!!
Who doesn’t feel better after doing The Twist? At the very least, personal foul penalties would be cut in half.
Ask The Slouch
Q. I have an English degree from Columbia and a law degree from Yale – couldn’t you at least try to instruct me on how to calculate EBA? (Tom Barrett; Alexandria, Va.)
A. EBA, or effective batting average, is derived by dividing a player’s batting average by the Callan-Symanzik equation, then, after factoring in the Euclidean algorithm, subtracting the player’s age. Round up to the next number.
Q. Any words of wisdom for LeBron James coming to L.A.? (Kristen Meyer; Syracuse, N.Y.)
A. Traffic is bad late afternoons most weekdays.
Q. Are you on the dark Web? (Tom Larson; Charleston, W.Va.)
A. I am the dark Web.
Q. I thoroughly enjoyed the book you wrote, “Hold on Honey, I’ll Take You to the Hospital at Halftime.” I found it to be a literary masterpiece; it reminded me of early John Steinbeck. Pay the man? (Tom Pollins; Ocean Pines, Md.)
A. This is a shameless attempt to keep up with your brother Don in $1.25 winnings – I wrote that book a quarter-century ago. Steinbeck? Please. But, uh, pay the man, Shirley.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!
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