Originally Published: Sep 15, 2010 7:28 PM CDT
The tradition of replacing the word "brave" for the name of your favorite team during the national anthem is not a new one. The Kansas City Chiefs and others have done it for years.
But Im afraid its spilling over. On the opening week of the high school football season I was at the Broken Arrow at Owasso game. Prior to the game Owasso honored a former player, who died this summer while serving his country overseas, with a moment of silence.
It was followed immediately by the national anthem. I stood outside of the south end zone staring at the flag, only to hear a good many (not all) Broken Arrow fans say "tigers" rather than "brave" at the end.
My friend Les Beckham passed away about two years ago. He was head of American Legion Baseball for Enid Argonne Post 4 for over 40 years. A finer human being I have never met.
Les was a member of Pattons Third Army in the winter of 1944. He was an infantryman in the Battle of the Bulge. Les didnt tell many stories about the war, but I remember one occasion on which he gifted us with one.
It was a story about Les and his fellow infantrymen being loaded up into the back of transport trucks and driven hundreds of miles across country. They stood like cattle for countless hours straight with no food or water in sub-zero temperatures with no idea where they were, whether or not they were going to be ambushed at any moment or where they were going.
Les looked at me and said, "I dont know how or why we did it. We just had to."
Les would have fought for your RIGHT to say "Sooners" rather than "brave" at the end of the national anthem. That doesnt mean its the RIGHT thing for you to do. Les and those who fought with him, before and after him and are fighting today deserve to be recognized as "brave."
So do those young men who will suit up for the Air Force Academy football team on Saturday.
I have a feeling that when I sit down to watch ESPN after all of the games have been played on Saturday night, the network will have gotten ahold of this story and the controversy that surrounds it. Theyll show a crimson-filled stadium and theyll say "before the game, this was the national anthem...." I wonder what I will hear. I hope its a proud and loud majority screaming "BRAVE" at the top of their lungs, but I fear that it wont be. And I hate that the entire world may see and hear the embarrassment eminating from the state I love and in which Ive lived nearly all of my life.
The anthem only takes about 70 seconds out of your day. At stadiums all around the country, youll find different kinds of fans wearing different kinds of things and supporting their teams in different kinds of ways. None of the games will be identical. The plays, players and storylines will all be different. The one thing that will be the same is that song they play before kickoff. Its special and unique and should be left that way.
If you show up really early, you can get in 10 hours of being a fan. Paint your face, yell, scream, wear a kilt while doing a keg tilt if you must. But for 70 seconds respect those who protect the freedom that allows you the ability to act that way if you feel like it.