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For the better part of the past decade, the singing of the national anthem before a big game has been less of a patriotic moment that brings us together and more of a cultural landmine.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his anthem-kneeling antics represented patient zero of this controversy during the 2016 NFL season, and his inability to find further employment in professional football made the matter a cause célèbre of the left, which understood (or at least pretended to understand) little about Kaepernick’s declining skills but pretended it knew everything about racism inside sports.
However, the disease metastasized. Soon, entire NFL teams weren’t taking the field for “The Star-Spangled Banner” so as to not cause division between players who stood for the anthem and knelt for it.
It went beyond football to the point where players on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, which represents the United States internationally, took a knee for their own country’s anthem in protest against perceived injustices in the land of the free and the home of the brave. (Teams from places such as China and Vietnam tended not to replicate this behavior. I wonder why.)
I dredge up this ugly slice of recent history only to say that I hope that Super Bowl LVIII could be evidence that we’re finally past that performative, anti-American nastiness.
The national anthem was sung by Reba McEntire, a symbol of America if there ever was one. She nailed it, as we should have guessed she would.
What we wouldn’t guess is that it brought Kansas City Chiefs star defensive tackle Chris Jones to tears.
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