New Texas law requires professional sports teams to play the national anthem
Texas professional sports teams will lose government funding if they do not play the national anthem before the start of every home game, according to a new law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Wednesday, months after the Dallas Mavericks drew contempt among Republicans by briefly removing the song from its pre-game festivities.
Starting in September, the law – known as SB4 – will require all new financial contracts between professional sports teams and government agencies to include a “written check” promising to play the national anthem in team stadiums.
If the teams violate these written agreements, their contracts with the government will be in default, which can result in financial penalties.
The law does not mention any specific agreements between teams and the government, but it is quite common for state and local governments in Texas and elsewhere to lease public sports stadiums to teams or cover the costs of building arenas. .
The bill was passed by the Senate and the State House in April and May, respectively.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (right) backed the idea after Mavericks owner Mark Cuban confirmed his team had not played the national anthem for the first 13 games of this season: “The Mark Cuban’s actions… made it clear that we need to specify that in Texas we play the national anthem before all major events, ”Patrick told local media in February.
Critics like Representative Gene Wu (D) called the law “blatantly and aggressively unconstitutional”, argued that the national anthem would make less sense if it was mandatory, and pointed out that most professional sports teams – including the Mavericks – are already playing the song on purpose.
“The taxpayer-subsidized stadiums that host the Mavericks should either condemn [Cuban’s] anti-American decisions and override it; or return any tax grants they received, ”tweeted Rep. Dustin Burrows (R), one of the bill’s sponsors. February.
“I think the national anthem makes even more sense when played freely, and not as a result of legal duress,” Rep. John Turner (R) wrote in a statement last month. “SB4 would change our anthem from something that is played and sung on purpose at professional sporting events to something that is done because it is mandated by law.”
The crash of the Mavericks’ national anthem was short lived. The team agreed to resume playing the song just a day after Cuba’s decision was first reported in February, a move according to Cuba was prompted by concerns from some community members that “l ‘national anthem did not fully represent them. Additionally, fans likely didn’t notice the song’s 13-game absence as the Mavericks’ stadium was still closed to spectators due to Covid-19 at the time. But the decision earned scolding from Texas Republicans, part of years of arguments over the place of the “Star Spangled Banner” in American sports. NBA and NFL players have sporadically protested systemic racism by kneeling during the national anthem, sparking dismay from conservatives and prompting former President Donald Trump to threaten to cut “massive tax breaks” for the NFL.
Texas isn’t the only state to pass a national anthem law. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed a law earlier this week requiring sports teams to play the song, but unlike Texas law, it does not spell out the repercussions for teams who fail to comply politics.