Some do not grasp how democracy works

When pro athletes such as Colin Kaepernick, and now Lebron James and Mookie Betts, the best and second best player in the world for their respective sports, kneel during the national anthem, they are not disrespecting the troops or our flag. They are using the occasion of the anthem, when the attention of millions is on them, to raise awareness of important issues like systemic racism and police brutality.

Kneelers are not politicizing a solemn moment as critics suggest. It is already an inherently political act to take a pause for the national anthem before the opening pitch/tip/kick.

It’s political theater, an act of performative ceremonial patriotism, something I recognized in high school when the 6 p.m. junior varsity basketball game wasn’t worthy of “The Star-Spangled Banner” but the following 7:30 p.m. varsity game was. Monday after school, junior varsity football games started without the stars and stripes, unlike patriotic Friday night varsity games under the lights. And in baseball we only got the “rocket’s red glare” during sectionals and beyond because there’s no need to show off how much you love America for a high school sport that gets almost no fans.

The anthem at sporting events is what West Point graduate, Vietnam veteran, historian and author Andrew Bacevich calls “a masterpiece of contrived spontaneity, [an] event leav[ing] spectators feeling good about their baseball team, about their military and, not least of all, about themselves.” It’s hagiographic patriotism, an attempt to force a national sense of pride rather than doing the actual hard work of earning it by making America a place that truly provides liberty and justice for all, which it still doesn’t for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and Eric Garner and Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin.

Sixty-three million Americans showed how little they cared for Black lives when they elected Donald Trump as president, a cretinous oaf who is a cross between Bull Connor, George Wallace and Archie Bunker. If it makes you feel uncomfortable to see players kneel or to see the Black Lives Matter logo painted on the court, that’s the point.

Sorry, fans, but you don’t get a break from the world when you watch sports. Do the millions without health insurance in the only advanced nation without universal health care get a break from their suffering? Pro athletes are not going to shut up and dribble for your enjoyment.

Sean Pidgeon


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(18) comments


The national anthem (which should be America the Beautiful) is played at sporting events because the idea is that a culture of sports makes a nation militarily strong because sports also promote military readiness. Isn't a movie trope that a WW2 soldier can throw a grenade well because of having played baseball? This association is probably obsolete however. Military training benefits very little from the sports experience of the trainees, especially since it mainly consists of watching other people play on TV. Sports is just entertainment, and ennobling it with a national anthem is really kind of a demotion for the anthem, like wearing a flag as underwear.


My comment from yesterday was edited and ended up, late in the day, being placed down in the queue where you may not have seen it. The original time was 9:17. Please take a look. I have a different take on this than many of you.


Excellent letter!


100 percent off of the point of the song being played. That song and what it represents is the reason folks can protest, take knees, or speak out however they feel. That song represents FREEDOM and FREE SPEECH. Kneel for the anthem in Russia, or China and lets see how that goes. If folks wish to kneel they may, that too has become political. Most don't do anything to help the cause of the day...except they kneel. If it wasn't for the folks that established the great American society, then we couldn't kneel. I wish to kneel when I see people brutally injured and now killed in violent protests across our great country. That is my right. That song and flag allows us the freedom to do whatever we wish, don't forget that. It has nothing to do with disrespecting the military, on this I agree. I just find it ironic, tragic and much worse when I see NBA players kneel for a cause they profit millions and millions from in regards to the business alliance with China...arguably the WORST country in the world for human rights. Make no mistake, the hypocrisy runs deep. That is my issue with this "attack" on the anthem. Thank goodness we allow the right to protest here and that song is a symbol of that freedom.




Make no mistake, the hypocrisy runs deep.

So, I’m going out on a limb and assuming you’re a Trump supporter. I believe down-thread from here you’re complaining about the paper allowing name calling. And you’re a Trump supporter? No, problem with name calling there? Probably not with Stefanik’s childish Taxin Tedra either?


Independent. I don't condone any name calling. You as usual just blindly attack and smear. Find someone else to go after. Serious discussion here.


Airball55 is raising the convo to another level and I, for one, like it.


It’s hagiographic patriotism, an attempt to force a national sense of pride rather than doing the actual hard work of earning it by making America a place that truly provides liberty and justice for all

Good letter. The sense of entitlement without the hard work is perfectly dramatized by Trump’s nonconsensual hugging of the American flag. It fools the same people who sent money to Steve Bannon for a wall that’s falling down. From Deplorables to Gullibles.


Shame on the NYY360 for allowing this name calling. Shameful


Shame on the NYY360 for allowing this name calling. Shameful

If you’re referring to my comment why don’t you point out what you’re offended by? There’s a group of Trump supporters in my area that refer to themselves as Deplorables. And if you don’t believe that sending money to an obvious scam like Build the Wall makes them gullible then you’re going to have to do some convincing. Of course, those are the same people who believed Mexico was going to pay for and then turned around and sent their own money to obvious grifters like Bannon.



hermit thrush

what a great letter!


A fine assessment. Patriotism takes seeing an injustice or a problem and then taking action to right the injustice or solve the problem. It takes caring and thoughtful work. It is not as easy as singing a community song.


This is a well-written article that I disagree vehemently with.

I don't know much about Sean Pidgeon of Morristown except that he appears to identify with a liberal worldview, doesn't like the Orange Man, is polite and writes well.

Regarding the well-written drivel he crafted: He denigrates the singing or playing of the national anthem as "performative ceremonial patriotism". Of course it is! Has he ever been to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? Has he ever attended a military funeral in a combat theater? What do you think a 4th of July parade is, Sean! Any and all of these ceremonies are designed to remind us that we currently live basically peacefully in the most advanced, productive, fair, just, and safe nation that has EVER existed. Is it perfect? Of course not! For those of us that believe in Heaven after this life, we have that to look forward to. The rest can look forward to a "dirt nap." Nevertheless, it is better to be here and try to continuously improve our circumstances than to live anywhere else on Earth.

Sean would allege that, by kneeling, the athletes are trying to call attention to an injustice and are therefore trying to improve this country. This argument has a prioritization problem. In Pidgeon's world, which important causes would rise to the level where we denigrate a timeless moment of recognition instead of celebrating the relative success of America compared to EVERY OTHER system of government in the world? There are other ways to show your concern for a cause other than jumping on the easy bandwagon and "taking a knee."

The custom and code of showing respect for our flag, our system of government, our dead and those who serve at risk to their very lives, has long been to remove your head covering, cross your heart, and stand facing the flag. Any other posture, act of rebellion, or expression is inherently disrespectful to the flag and everything it stands for (pun intended).

The whole faux issue regarding the playing of the National Anthem at varsity games but not JV is really kind of inane, Sean. To be reasonable, we pick and choose where to play the anthem. If you are an advocate of more anthem play then why don't you go to the school board and advocate for that. This, of course, brings us to the correct way to "make a statement" about something. Rule one is, don't step on a time-honored, revered, symbol to make your point. Work hard behind the scenes. Spend some of your own money on the effort. I'm talking to the millionaire athletes here as well as those with ordinary means. Many years ago, Randall Cunningham, a black NFL quarterback, stood up in church and offered a LARGE sum of money to the cash strapped church and its programs. This is real activism and it builds up people and institutions. Kneeling during the National Anthem tears down.

In the end, kneeling tears down and does not build up. We need mandatory national service so all young Americans have skin in the game. That would reset our system and move us closer to unity.

(Edited by staff.)

Charlie McGrath

They should fix the "systematic racism" in the NBA. There are a disproportionate number of African Americans playing in the NBA. Where are the Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans? Clearly they need to fix this obvious racist policy.

hermit thrush

this is a shameful comment which is totally ignorant of the way racism actually works in american society.

Farmer Liz

Excellent letter. Thank you for writing it.

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