Every professional sports team from Florida will soon be required to play the national anthem before each of their home games if they still want to be funded by the government under legislation filed by a Sarasota County lawmaker that mirrors a Texas bill.
After the Dallas Mavericks basketball team stopped playing the anthem this year at the direction of team owner Mark Cuban, Republican state Rep. Tommy Gregory said that even if he’s not aware of any Florida teams that have stopped playing the national anthem, he wants to ensure that this never happens.
“I haven’t seen any Mark Cuban-type, what I would view as anti-American, protests against our anthem or our flag,” Gregory said. “But I certainly want to make sure that sort of negative activism is avoided, prohibited actually if they want to do business with the government, and most of them do.”
Cuban’s decision to stop playing the national anthem before home games came after he spoke to community members “who voiced their concerns, really their fears that the national anthem did not fully represent them, that their voices were not being heard.”
The anthem could not be heard on 13 of the Mavericks’ preseason games, as well as on one regular-season game. And no one even noticed, but the NBA declared shortly after news reports drew attention to the issue, that the anthem must be played before games, so the Mavericks didn’t have any choice but to begin playing it again.
Later, the Texas Legislature passed a law, named the Star Spangled Banner Protection Act, prohibiting government agencies from entering into contracts that provide funding to professional sports teams unless those teams agree in writing to play the national anthem.
For example, government agencies often finance sports stadiums.
“A governmental entity may not enter into an agreement with a professional sports team that requires a financial commitment by the state or a governmental entity unless the agreement includes … written verification that the professional sports team will play the United States national anthem at the beginning of each team sporting event held at the team’s home venue or other facility controlled by the team for the event,” is stated in Gregory’s legislation (HB 499).
One of Gregory’s reasons why he is so passionate about the anthem issue is that both he and his wife are actually military veterans. “I think that showing proper respect to our country and our flag is really a civic responsibility,” Gregory said.
Although Cuban’s decision to stop playing the anthem attracted a lot of criticism, former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy supported the move before the Mavericks reversed course.
Van Gundy tweeted that ‘this should happen everywhere.’
“If you think the anthem needs to be played before sporting events, then play it before every movie, concert, church service and the start of every workday at every business. What good reason is there to play the anthem before a game?” the former coach wrote on his Twitter account.
According to the Texas Tribune, Texas state Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, also commented on this move by calling the anthem legislation “openly and aggressively unconstitutional.”