The 180

Opinion: Let's stop singing the anthem at every sports event

Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade nearly caused an international incident by taking practice shots during the singing of O'Canada. Wade has apologized, saying he meant no disrespect. But Kyle Koster says the problem isn't that Dwyane Wade disrespected the anthem, it's that we sing national anthems before sporting events at all.
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade during the second half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff basketball series against the Toronto Raptors. (Alan Diaz/Associated Press)

Stand up. Take your hat off. Sing along if you feel like it. 

Those are the traditions we typically associate with the singing of the national anthem. 

So recently when Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade continued to shoot baskets as O' Canada played prior to a game against the Toronto Raptors, there was an outburst of outrage at Wade. 

Wade has since apologized saying he meant no disrespect. 

But Kyle Koster, a writer with USA Today's sports website The Big Lead, says the incident underlined for him why it's time we reconsider singing the national anthem before every sports game. 

It comes to a point where you get diminishing returns.... if you were to reserve the playing of national anthems like special occasions like the playoffs, or times of great national pride or great national strife, when there's a sense of 'hey let's pause and reflect on what it means to be an American or Canadian,' it would be more impactful.- Kyle Koster, The Big Lead

Koster says when he goes to a game, he watches how people behave during the singing of the anthem.

He says he sees plenty of people eating, using their phones or talking, so he's not convinced people take it seriously.

He also says there are people who go too far the other way.

And then you get people who, during the anthem, instead of paying attention to the flag or the words, they'll spend their time policing the section around them making sure no one's wearing a hat. Seems weird that people would take the time to play society cop if you were that passionate about what was going on-Kyle Koster, The Big Lead

So to Koster, if we reduce the frequency, maybe we'll increase the quality, and make the anthems more meaningful. 

If you eat pizza every day, you'll get sick of pizza and it's not a treat anymore. If pizza's a special treat you have once every few weeks, you'll enjoy your pizza more.-Kyle Koster, The Big Lead