Donald Trump’s cheap sports-venue patriotism comes without any pain or sacrifice – Los Angeles Times

In the mid- to late 2000s, I remember going to games at old Yankee Stadium and feeling a sort of amorphous peer pressure during the pregame singing of the national anthem and seventh-inning renditions of “God Bless America.” Among fans, there was an almost belligerent tendency to self-police, to ensure all those in attendance rose and removed their caps. It always made me feel uncomfortable in the stands, even as I stood and removed my cap.

This red-white-and-blue-tinted pressure in the South Bronx wasn’t organic; it was sanctioned from the top, from owner George Steinbrenner himself. He instructed security staff to rope fans into their rows so they couldn’t move around during the singing of nationalistic songs. (This policy made news in the summer of 2008, when a fan was allegedly roughed up — and subsequently ejected — by a couple of New York City police officers for trying to use the restroom at the wrong time.)

To some fans (myself included), this form of stadium-based patriotism — which, in the post-9/11 era, increasingly featured flyovers, field-length flags, surprise soldier homecomings and in-game breaks to salute the troops — came to feel almost perfunctory, as if teams in all the major sports leagues were telling us to eat our vegetables. (It was later revealed that the Department of Defense funded many such ceremonies).

Now President Trump is trying to get us to eat our vegetables, cooked his way, in the form of trying to force NFL players to “stand proud” for their country during the national anthem and disinviting two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry to the White House (Curry had already said he wouldn’t show up). In the process, he’s underlining something Dave Zirin, the Nation’s sports editor, has pointed out: When people say politics and sports shouldn’t mix, what they really mean is that sports and “certain types of politics” don’t mix.

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