TV Commentator: ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ A ‘War Anthem,’ Shouldn’t Be Played Before Sporting Events

BRISTOL, Conn. (CBS Connecticut/AP) — An ESPN analyst believes “The Star-Spangled Banner” should not be played before sporting events because it’s a war anthem.

On ESPN’s “Around the Horn” Wednesday, the panel was discussing the American-themed Northwestern University football jerseys the team will wear Nov. 16 when they host Michigan to honor the Wounded Warrior Project. The uniforms have been criticized for what looks like blood stains on a flag.

Kevin Blackistone, a sports columnist and University of Maryland journalism professor, believes Northwestern should not wear the uniforms and that sports need to stop embracing military symbolism.

“If you sell this along with me, you should also be selling the rest of the military symbolism embrace of sports,” Blackistone stated. “Whether it’s the singing of a war anthem to open every game; whether it’s going to get a hot dog 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’s 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.”

Host Tony Reali followed-up with Blackistone, saying: “There is a difference between calling a football game a ‘battle,’ right, and singing the National Anthem before a game.”

Blackistone responded: “You are conflating a war anthem with a simple game and when you have military flyovers and all the other military symbolism that goes on in sports, I think you’ve got a problem.”

The Under Armour jerseys with the stars and stripes will be auctioned off after the game, with all proceeds going to the Project.

Northwestern spokesman Paul Kennedy said Monday it’s a “distressed pattern on both the stars and stripes that was inspired by the appearance of a flag that has flown proudly over a long period of time” and apologized “for any misinterpretation.”

He added Boston College used a similar design last year.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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