19 January 2015

Televising the national anthem.

A gentleman whom I consider a close friend (and he sometimes to tolerates me) has rightfully pointed out my nitpickobnoxiousness when it comes to following the rules of loving our country during sporting events. I once derided individuals at a football game for putting hand over heart during the national anthem and taking off their hat during America the Beautiful for not being requirements. Not surprisingly, he was correct in telling me that any display of affection and reverence is welcome. (Leave it to an astounding member of our military to put me in my place. Damn him.)

That said, I continue to be struck by the lack of patriotic reverence in the process of televising the games. My point is not to ridicule the great employees generating excellent TV coverage. I merely am asking everyone to follow the same set of rules. No more - no less. We play those impossible for me to sing notes before every game to show the most important element is not a win or loss but our dedication to this country. When we attend a game and the Star Spangled Banner begins, our hat should be off and our eyes planted firmly on the flag. Consider it a moment to ponder the greatness of America, or just to catch your breath to build up energy for a rowdy game. Whichever works.

That level of respect does not fully materialize on television. We see a little bit of the person or people singing the song. A little bit of the fans. A little bit of flag. And, most of all, we get close-up moments of the athletes and coaches - I presume so we can judge our favorite jerseys as being more respectful than their jerseys. Who knows.

This may be great for ratings and exactly what viewers want but I cannot help but find this as disrespectful as someone who decides to leave their hat on or strike up a conversation. The requirements of focusing on the flag and not be distracted by anything but the moment applies to those at home, too, and this undermines the patriotic experience for everyone - not least of which are the people behind the cameras.

I know I am asking a lot, but maybe for the Super Bowl we could just have a shot of the flag during the song so the camera jockeys and other employees could stop what they are doing, stand and face that symbol of our free country? Yes. Silly. How about simply pointing the camera at the individual singing the song and not moving it? There are a million opportunities during the game to see the athletes, coaches and fans. For a couple of minutes before the madness begins, let's ignore all of that and give our full attention to something slightly more important.