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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/30/14

The Militarization of Sport in America

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Message Dave Lefcourt
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2001 WS Gm4: Lee Greenwood sings .God Bless the USA. 10/31/01: Lee Greenwood sings .God Bless the USA. at Yankee Stadium prior to Game 4 of the World Series between the D-backs and Yankees Check out ...
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The 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium Lee Greenwood sings "God Bless the USA".

There was a time before every professional or college football, basketball and baseball game there would be the playing of the "National Anthem" and everyone stood up.

Maybe on Memorial Day a military color guard would march out from center field and the "Blue Angels" might make a fly over.

Well that modest fanfare is no longer; today its game commentators, public address announcers and Jumbo Tron scoreboards constantly "celebrating" the nations fighting men and women, flags waving and fans clapping with the inevitable "tribute" to our "heroes" being "congratulated" in the stands and giving them a standing ovation. And come the 7 th inning-remember this is baseball season-there's the inevitable "God Bless America"-forget "Take me out to the ballgame"-with Kate Smith bellowing out her old rendition.

Not that this "celebration" of war and extolling our "heroes" should be unexpected. Major league sport has been intrinsically interconnected with America's wars since at least WWII with many famous athletes-Ted Williams, Bob Feller et al joining up and serving in the "last good war".

But now, few if any join the military-the last in this writers memory being Pat Tillman, the pro football player who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004-and later acknowledged as such by the Pentagon after it initially made him a hero dying for his country-and the games are constantly interrupted with these fawning tributes all but genuflecting before the flag and the military.

I guess it should be expected as major sport can't be seen as critical much less skeptical of the carnage and mayhem our military inflicts in our unnecessary wars and occupations lest they be cast out, shunned as outliers, unpatriotic or downright traitors to the "cause".

So the days of major sport being primarily what's happening on the playing field are over.

As for the fans, one would feel scorn if he, she didn't stand up as a member of the military, with the TV cameras rolling and the Jumbo Tron focusing on him,her and fans clapping and giving them a "heroes" welcome-something they really don't want or deserve as they know they are not heroes.

And god forbid if anyone didn't stand up for the playing of "God Bless America" even though it's not the national anthem.

It's hard to know if most fans are "Support the Troops" types, those phony arm chair warrior "patriots" supporting all our wars, but it certainly appears that way. Maybe some stand and clap just because everyone else is doing it and they don't want to draw attention to themselves even if they disagree with the "celebration" going on around them.

Yet think about it, in public school the day starts with all the kids standing and reciting the "Pledge of Allegiance". Although I may have read about somewhere it's hard to imagine a kid being told by his parents not to stand up and place his hand over his heart and not recite the "Pledge". That's part of the indoctrination that begins in Kindergarten.

And maybe this type of indoctrination happens in all countries, not just the US.

But now in the US its feeling more and more like lock-step obedience, everything but the straight arm salute and "Heil Hitler".

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