National anthem protest controversy What's Your Point? October 8, 2017

- The panelists this week include Bob Price - associate editor for Breitbart Texas, Adrian Garcia - former Harris County Sheriff,  Marcus Davis, radio host of "Sunday Morning Live",  Bill King - columnist, businessman and former Kemah mayor, and Republican strategist Jessica Colon join host Greg Groogan for a lively discussion regarding professional athletes protesting during the national anthem at sporting events.

Anthem has been a channel for protests since song's origins

DETROIT (AP) - When football players kneel during the national anthem, Mark Clague sees the continuation of a tradition as old as the song itself.

The University of Michigan musicology professor and expert on "The Star-Spangled Banner" said the song has been a channel for protest since at least 1844, three decades after Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics during a pivotal battle against the British in the War of 1812.

Since that time, the lyrics have occasionally been rewritten or expanded to push for the end of slavery, for women's rights and to call attention to other social issues that shaped a growing nation.

"The song becomes a vehicle for commenting on what it means be American," he said.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the anthem in the 2016 preseason to make a statement about social inequality and police treatment of blacks in the United States. After President Donald Trump suggested that NFL owners should fire athletes who protest during the song, more than 200 players knelt or took other action during last weekend's games. Some fans booed in response.

The players' actions were "very much in keeping with past protests," Clague said. In the days of slavery, the words were changed to begin with "Oh Say, Do You Hear" as an abolition song. During the civil rights movement, the anthem was sung by protesters alongside "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," the black national anthem.

Other versions were tailored to advocate for women's suffrage, Prohibition and labor rights.

The durable yet mutable nature of the song is among its more intriguing aspects. The slower, statelier version performed today started life as a more upbeat victory song, Clague notes, and the tune synonymous with American patriotism came a few decades earlier from a musician's club in England. The tune had been married to many other lyrics even before Key's.

No official version exists. A 1931 law simply states that the composition "known as The Star-Spangled Banner is designated the national anthem of the United States of America."

Clague sees the song as a national symbol, no less than the Constitution or the flag. And it's "a living document" that can change - "the same way the Constitution can change by amendment or the flag can change by adding a star."

"It's the role of these symbols to help us live in in the present to deal with the challenges of our time," he said. "It's a misuse of the anthem to treat it as inviolate. It was always political. It is always changing. Patriotic symbols can't function if they can't respond the current social moment."

Rick Robinson has a "great love" for the anthem, calling it "one of the last bits of common culture." Yet the classical bassist, who was only the second black musician in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra when he joined the century-old institution in 1989, also supports the players' "soft protest" as the song plays.

It's possible, Robinson reasons, to hold both ideas in his heart.

"Whenever I play it in the DSO or any other orchestra, I tear up sometimes, and I sing along when I hear it with full voice," said Robinson, who played with the Detroit orchestra for 22 years. "I know (protest) is difficult for some, but it's a necessary exercise of free speech."

NBA suggests to teams unity ideas, reminds of anthem rule

NEW YORK (AP) - The NBA is recommending teams address fans or show videos expressing themes of unity before their first home games, while reminding them of the rule that players must stand for the national anthem.

A memo was sent to teams Friday, a day after Commissioner Adam Silver said he expected players would stand for the anthem .

In the memo, obtained by The Associated Press, Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum suggested teams use their opening games "to demonstrate your commitment to the NBA's core values of equality, diversity, inclusion and serve as a unifying force in the community."

He recommended an address by a player or coach to fans before the anthem, or a video featuring players or community leaders speaking about important issues and showing photos from past community events.

The league's preseason schedule begins Saturday with two games, including the NBA champion Golden State Warriors hosting Denver.

Tatum said the league supports and encourages players to express their views on matters that are important to them, while reminding of the rule that players, coaches and trainers stand respectfully for the anthem.

"The league office will determine how to deal with any possible instance in which a player, coach or trainer does not stand for the anthem. (Teams do not have the discretion to waive this rule)," the memo says.

The memo builds on discussions held by the NBA's Board of Governors this week, and follows up on one Silver and players association executive director Michele Roberts sent to players recently.

It recommends that teams organize internal discussions to hear the players' perspectives, if they haven't already, and to start or expand programs within their communities.

"The players have embraced their roles in those efforts and we are proud of the work they do in our communities," Tatum wrote.

The memo was first reported by ESPN.com.

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