If you've ever watched a Canadian broadcast of a hockey game, you have seen national anthem presentations done right. National pride, everyone singing along, people passing a huge Canadian flag around the bottom bowl of the arena -- it's a spectacle. On the American side, you have traditions like Chicago's, and you have great anthem singers in every arena. The Star Spangled Banner before a sporting event is as American as apple pie, and it'd take a lot for someone to say "Hey, don't do that."
One would think.
Apparently Ed Sam, commissioner of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League and proud owner of two first names, disagrees. He has sent down an edict to the over 200 teams in the state to cease playing the Star Spangled Banner before games. Why? It cuts into ice time in the rink and it cuts into the time allotted for the game. The anthem should only take a minute and a half to perform; while ice time is expensive, how much could a minute and thirty seconds cost?
The singing of national anthems is part of hockey tradition; it transcends simple patriotism. The driving philosophy in hockey -- it's not the name on the back but the crest on the front -- is very similar to the American philosophy of unity: out of many, one. Hockey players respect something greater than the individual, and the incorporation of the national anthem into games reflects that. The teams that want to play the anthem before the game should continue to do so.
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