MADISON, Wis. (ABC4) – Should the national anthem play before sporting events? One Wisconsin lawmaker thinks it should be and wants a law to require it.
“I strongly believe we need to play it, particularly where we’re at now in our country,” Rep. Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc), tells ABC4 affiliate WISN.
He is currently sponsoring a bill that would require the national anthem to be sung or played before any sporting event in a venue that was built using public tax dollars. That includes youth sports and recreational league softball games.
According to Rep. Kurtz, a 20-year military veteran, there are no penalties for violating the requirement, which he says is largely symbolic and not enforceable.
“I don’t want to make it enforceable,” Kurtz says. “I want people to voluntarily do that.”
WISN reports the bill had unanimous support in committee, passing the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Assembly by a vote of 74 to 22. It now heads to the State Senate.
In February, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he decided before this season began not to play the national anthem before the team’s home games. One day later, Cuban relented, bringing the national anthem back after the NBA reiterated its “longstanding league policy” to include the song.
Last summer, some Americans called for a new national anthem amid the nationwide trend of removing monuments, statues, and other symbols that have ties to slavery.
Francis Scott Key wrote the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” on September 14, 1814, when he saw the US flag flying over the fort at dawn’s early light, according to the Smithsonian Institute.
This poem later served as the lyrics for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which became the official national anthem of the US in 1931.
However, citizens asked for a new national anthem because of Key’s ties to slavery. A change.org petition was created to change the national anthem to “America the Beautiful.” As of May 13, that petition has just over 3,620 signatures.