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Texas Bill would require playing of National Anthem at sporting events

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

There’s a headline I bet you didn’t see coming in the middle of all of the other disasters we’re currently dealing with. The Texas state senate has passed a bill that would make the playing of the national anthem mandatory at all professional sporting events hosted in venues that receive state funding. The measure has already received the support of the state’s Lt. Governor, Dan Patrick. If you’re getting the impression that this is one of those “own the libs” measures, well… let’s just say you’re not alone. But if a measure like this can pass anywhere, it’s probably Texas, right? (CBS Dallas – Fort Worth)

The Texas Senate passed a bill Thursday that would require the playing of the national anthem at professional sporting events in venues funded by taxpayers.

The bill, known as the Star-Spangled Banner Protection Act, was introduced by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway, and was supported by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

According to the bill, any pro sports team in Texas must play the national anthem prior to their events. Failure to do this would be considered a default on an agreement between the teams and government entities, which would lead to monetary penalties, the bill stated.

The statement that Dan Patrick released in support of the bill was something that could have been ripped straight out of a campaign stump speech. He invoked “the men and women who died fighting for our flag” and even tossed in “the land of the free and the home of the brave” for good measure.

This bill was apparently aimed at Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban because the Mavericks hadn’t been playing the anthem during the 2020-2021 season. I suppose those home games would qualify because, while the teams in the NBA are privately owned, pretty much every major sports stadium winds up receiving some form of grant or tax relief deal from the government to help cover the staggering costs of constructing such facilities. In some locations, stadiums are fully municipally owned and operated. All such facilities would be subject to this new rule if it’s passed into law.

I’m still not sure how I feel about this, to be honest. I’m all in favor of the Anthem being played at sporting events where appropriate. But such shows of patriotism should be voluntary, shouldn’t they? People should want to demonstrate their loyalty to their own country, not be forced into it by Big Brother. I similarly feel that people should stand for the playing of the Stars and Stripes, but I’d be very uncomfortable seeing the government fine them for refusing to do so.

Also, the bill refers to “all professional sports.” Would it apply to golf tournaments? I’m not sure if there are any golf courses that receive taxpayer funding, but it just seems as if it would be weird to figure out a time and place to play the Anthem at a golf tournament. Or maybe that’s just me.

Stepping back and looking at this from a strictly small-government conservative viewpoint, basketball games and other such professional sporting events are almost entirely affairs of the private sector. When the government steps in to legislatively mandate or restrict the actions of private citizens, it should only be able to do so when it can be demonstrated that those actions have the potential to cause harm to others. Proving the “harm” of failing to play the Anthem before a basketball game would require a significant stretch in terms of defining “harm.”

There’s no word yet as to where the Governor stands on this measure, though I wouldn’t be all that surprised if he signs it. (Assuming it reaches his desk.) Would Mark Cuban or any other professional sports team owner challenge this bill if it becomes law? Would he even have standing to challenge it? We’ll keep an eye on the story and let everyone know how it plays out.