The puzzling thing about the recent incident involving an athlete who refused to stand during the national anthem is how long it has taken for the national anthem at a sporting event to become an issue. (Ok, I’m ignoring the incident of the black athletes at the 1968 Olympics.) I first went to a sporting event in another country in 1981. It was a soccer game in Brazil, and I noticed that no national anthem started their games, unless the two teams were from different countries. I’ve now been to games in a number of different countries, and it is the same thing everywhere: no national anthem is played unless the two teams are from different countries. Only America plays the national anthem at the beginning of every sporting event. (Well, ok, not for pee wee football or intramural softball games.) For everyone else, the game just starts at the scheduled time without a national anthem.
Wouldn’t you think that leftists, who want to burn our flag, would have picked up on this sooner? But they haven’t. Even now they haven’t (as far as I know).
Here’s another thing to think about: with fewer men going to college, isn’t it time we rethink our commitment to college sports? Here in America, we strongly encourage a certain trajectory for young athletes. We encourage them to go to college and to play their sports there (and then if they are good enough, they go on to the pros, but if not, they quit). But why? When I have brought this up, everyone talks about the value of an education and how we don’t want to deprive young people of that. Well, lots of young men aren’t going to college anyway. Plus, not all athletes go to college. Boxers, for example, do not. Nor do we expect rock stars to go to college or actors. If they do, that’s nice, but their industries don’t demand it of them.
I am suggesting this heresy because having learned about how things are done outside of America, I don’t think their system is inferior to ours. Young athletes play on teams associated with clubs, and that is that. Their schools don’t have teams usually, and so they must play on teams that are not associated with schools. Now, if lots of young men aren’t going to college, then they are being deprived of the opportunity to participate in sports past high school, so it seems sensible to invest more in teams that are not associated with schools. Let me also add that I was surprised when looking at sports in England to learn how many ordinary guys were playing on teams. Some of these teams are semi-pro teams, and I believe every semi-pro team competes in the FA Cup, which means that some of them will play against the professional teams. We don't have that kind of opportunity here because we insist on keeping our strange, college-based system.
Since I’m talking about sports, I might as well talk about women’s soccer. This columnist mentions the kerfuffle of women soccer players here in America demanding to be paid as much as men soccer players are. He thinks this is a ridiculous complaint, and so do I, but he believes they aren’t as good as the men, and so don't deserve more pay. A more relevant factor is the number of fans drawn to the games. Sadly for American female soccer players, they don’t draw very well, unless it’s the World Cup. And since they don’t draw very well, there isn’t enough money to pay them as much as the men get. Where do they think the money will come from?
After the glorious Women’s World Cup of 1999, forming a women’s soccer league seemed like a sure bet financially. Strangely enough, it wasn’t. The large number of young girls who showed up for the World Cup games weren’t interested in supporting a women’s league. The attendances were puny. My advice was to lower the price of the tickets until the games were packed (after which one could slowly raise the price of the tickets), but no one wanted to hear that advice. That league folded, and another league was born, but it too failed to draw in very many fans. And of course ticket prices were kept high. We are now on what I believe is our third women’s league, and while it hasn’t folded, I seldom hear about it, so I assume it too is not doing especially well. And just to check things out, I found this site which gives the stats for a recent game in the Pacific Northwest, which has become the hottest area in the country for men’s professional soccer in terms of fan support. Yet this game only drew 5,888. That is not enough to impress anyone.