Alabama Sports Columnist Says It’s Time to ‘Drop the Anthem’ at Sporting Events

Anthem Protests
Getty Images/Christian Petersen

Roy S. Johnson, the sports news director for the Alabama Media Group, is calling for an end to the playing of the national anthem at sporting events, “for the sanity of sports fans everywhere.”

In a May 30 editorial, Johnson advised the NFL to drop the anthem altogether “so we can become fans again.”

His editorial, though filled with dozens of specious proclamations and spurious assertions, ended with the claim that the NFL does not value black fans and suggested a way to end all the turmoil. “Stop playing it before sports events altogether,” he wrote

Johnson noted that the anthem did not become a permanent fixture to the beginning of sports games until more recently. Like many other recent liberal columnists, Johnson claimed that the only reason we now see the anthem is that many sports leagues have gotten money from the U.S. military. But whatever the reason, Johnson says to dump the whole thing.

For the sanity or sports fans everywhere–including me–it’s time to stop.

Oh, I’m still cool with the fly-overs–they never really get old. And please keep honoring our military men and women, even if (ahem, NFL “owners”) you are being paid millions to do so.

But drop the anthem. It has become too polarizing. Too extra.

“Can’t we just watch the games, cheer for our teams and high-five folks next to us — even if we disagree on criminal justice reform, immigration, health care, voting rights, whatever?” He asked plaintively.

But just how far do we go in eliminating patriotic displays in our lives? Do we cancel honor guards? Dump the flag? Ban the Pledge of Allegiance?

Johnson also makes a number of false claims in his piece. For instance, he claims that the Star Spangled Banner is racist because it features “slavery” in it. But this is a false, liberal narrative. The national anthem does not speak about the sort of chattel slavery that plagued the U.S.A. until it was eliminated by Republicans during the Civil War. It was talking about the practice of the British Navy of raiding ships and forcing sailors to serve in their Navy via an enslavement process called “impressment.”

A practice that led to the War of 1812, which is when Francis Scott Key wrote the anthem.

The columnist also misstates the original reason Colin Kaepernick began his protests: “Yes, the protests were initially inspired by too many acts of violence (sometimes deadly) perpetrated by rogue police against African-American boys and men throughout the nation,” he wrote.

Johnson follows that up by insisting that the protests were not a statement against patriotism. “It’s not about America or patriotism, either,” he exclaimed.

This is not what Kaepernick said at the very beginning of his protests. When Colin Kaepernick first started his protests, he unequivocally said that he was taking a stance against this very country, its history, and everything it stands for. He directly and specifically said that the U.S.A. was never great.

During the first months of his protest in 2016, Kaepernick outlined his motivations to NFL Media: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” the former Super Bowl starter explained. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

In other interviews, Kaepernick claimed that his protests were meant to “make America great for the first time.” In other words, he was saying that America is not now and has never been a great nation.

Also, at the time, Kaepernick already had a long history of posting anti-American themes to his social media. In one case he tweeted out the claim that the USA was no different at all from the slave-holding Confederacy of Civil War infamy. In a social media post that Kaepernick soon deleted when criticism of his anthem protest began to grow, the player posted an image of the U.S. and Confederate flags. He captioned the photo: “The fact that you really believe that there is difference in these flags means that your [sic] ignoring history.”

Kaepernick, at least early in his protest, was explicit that he was kneeling against the United States, not just protesting against “rogue police,” as Johnson claimed.

Speaking about the police, Johnson also insisted that the protests were never about the police. “It’s also not about the police,” he opined.

One wonders, then, how Johnson explains Kaepernick’s antics of wearing socks depicting police officers as pigs. That sure seems to be “about the police,” doesn’t it?

In the end, one thing is sure about Roy S. Johnson’s national anthem article. It contains nearly every aspect of the liberal narrative on these anthem protests. And nearly every point he makes is false.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.