How did the United States military and a chant about the War of 1812 grow so inextricably links with American sports? It didnt happen overnight
The playing of the Star-Spangled Banner is so familiar and perfunctory a trapping of boasting phenomena in the United States that few Americans even bothered to consider what it measures and why it’s a tradition until last year when Colin Kaepernick chose to take a knee in affirm of police violence and racial difference. The posts were redoubled this September when Donald Trump called on NFL owners to fire any players who kneel, recasting Kaepernick’s movement as not a complain of social inequality but an affront on patriotism and an insult to the military soldiers who paid the eventual toll for freedom.
But how did a hymn about the War of 1812 that wasn’t even adopted during “the member states national” carol until the 1930 s grown so indelibly bound to the American sporting experience? It didn’t happen overnight.
While the first documented its implementation of the Star-Spangled Banner at a boasting affair was before an 1862 baseball game in Brooklyn, the carol as game-day ritual grew solidified in the national consciousness during Game 1 of the 1918 World Series between the Red Sox and Cubs at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. These were the working day before stadium sound systems that bomb pop music at ear-splitting capacities during even the thinnest fragments of down duration. Live music was a luxury that incurred the cost of hiring members of the military clique, which left portrayals of the anthem for special occasions like opening day or the World Series.
The United States had lost more than 100,000 soldiers in the 17 months since enrolling the first world war and morale had been further undercut by the bombing of the Chicago Federal Building only four daytimes earlier, an attack that killed four people and injured 30 more. Attendance for the opener was low-pitched and public morale was lower, while a pitchers’ duel– eventually triumphed by Boston pitcher Babe Ruth!- did little to stoke angers in the stands.
That was until the military strap on hand played the Star-Spangled Banner during the seventh-inning extend and Red Sox third baseman Fred Thomas, playing the Fall Classic while on furlough from the US Navy, stood at attention toward the flag atop the spar in right field.
” The yawn was verified and psyches were bared as the ball players rotated soon about and faced the music ,” read the New York Times’ account the following daytime.” First the lyric was taken up by a few, then others assembled, and when the final tones attained, a great publication of theme wheeled across the field. It was at the very end that the onlookers explosion into resounding applause and rent the air with a ovation that observed the highest point of the day’s interest .”
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