Correction: The original text of this article referred to ESPN contributor Kevin Blackistone as an employee of the Dallas Morning News, reflecting his biography on the ESPN website. He is no longer with the Dallas Morning News.
On ESPN’s Around the Horn, frequent guest Kevin Blackistone said that football games should not include the singing of the national anthem beforehand, as that added to the “military symbolism.” He actually called the Star-Spangled Banner a “war anthem.”
Blackistone was addressing controversy over Northwestern University’s American flag-themed football uniforms, designed to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project. In a show segment titled “Buy or Sell,” Blackistone said that he would “sell” the uniforms:
I’m going to sell it for the same reasons. If you sell this along with me, you should also be selling the rest of the military symbolism embrace of sports. Whether it’s the singing of a war anthem to open every game. Whether it’s going to get a hotdog and being able to sign up for the Army at the same time. Whether it’s the NFL’s embrace of the mythology of the Pat Tillman story. It has been going on in sports since the first national anthem was played in the World Series back in 1917. And it’s time for people to back away.
When prompted by host Tony Reali about the difference between “calling a football game a ‘battle,’ right, and singing the national anthem before a game,” Blackistone shot back, “You are conflating a war anthem with a simple game. When you have military flyovers and the military symbolism that goes on in sports, I think you’ve got a problem.”
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.