The Prayer, The Pledge & The Anthem

by Jeff Costello, September 7, 2016

Sports have never been of much interest to me, outside of baseball to a small degree. Growing up in Connecticut, I saw Yankees and Dodgers games on the local TV stations. My uncle Art lived in Brooklyn and was big on the Dodgers. He had a baseball autographed by the entire 1955 team, Art took me to a game at Ebbets Field, and when he yelled at the players it was as if he knew them personally. Maybe he did. But I didn't feel his excitement, his enthusiasm, and the game was rained out in the fifth inning. The view from the stands was such that you couldn't see what was going on very well, it was all far away. Watching the games on TV was much better.

I remember of course the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, but not who sang it, or whether I did my patriotic duty and stood with my hand on my chest. This meant as little to me then as it does now.

In those days school kids were required to say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in class, and recite the Lord's Prayer as well. We didn't question this but I for one didn't believe any of it any more than the national anthem at the baseball games. I didn't think to question the other kids' level of sincerity on these things. Maybe the ones who did buy into it joined up and went to Viet Nam later, I don't know. For God and country I guess.

For a brief time in the 80's I paid some attention to football, the Joe Montana 49ers. Montana seemed to elevate his actions as quarterback to an art form, unlike the crude and prosaic nature of everything else in the game.

I never regained interest in football after that period, and the spectacle of the Super Bowl has become obscene. Also, pro sports apparently have added another song to the program, God Bless America, conflating patriotism with religion. As an old friend of mine would say, it's past the point of being just plain ridiculous.

So if the current quarterback of the 49ers won't stand up for forced patriotism and risks loss of a very lucrative job, I say more power to him, no matter what else his circumstances. It's like voting for a third party candidate - someone, sometime, has to start defying the bullshit.

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