Florida professional sports teams would be required to play the national anthem before every home game if they wish to receive government funding under legislation introduced by a Sarasota County legislator that mirrors a Texas bill.
The Texas legislation was prompted by the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, which stopped playing the anthem this year under team owner Mark Cuban.
Republican State Rep. Tommy Gregory said he isn’t aware of any Florida team that has stopped playing the national anthem, but he wants to make sure that never happens.
“I haven’t seen any type of Mark Cuban, what I would consider anti-American, protests against our anthem or our flag, but I certainly want to make sure that this type of negative activism is avoided, banned in fact. , if they want to do business with the government, and most of them do,” Gregory said.
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Cuban told ESPN that the decision not to play the anthem came after speaking to members of the community “who expressed their concerns, really their fears that the national anthem doesn’t fully represent them, that their voices don’t are not heard”.
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The anthem has been at the center of racial justice protests at professional sporting events since 2016, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee while playing to protest the police abuse of African Americans.
Athletes have continued to protest during the anthem since then, but Cuba’s decision to stop playing the anthem is unusual.
The Mavericks did not play the anthem for 13 preseason and regular season games. His absence initially went unnoticed. The Mavericks resumed playing the anthem after news reports drew attention to the issue and the NBA said all teams must play the anthem.
The Texas Legislature then passed a law—dubbed 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. Government agencies often subsidize sports stadiums.
Gregory’s legislation (HB 499) states that: “A government entity may not enter into an agreement with a professional sports team that requires a financial commitment from the state or a government entity unless the agreement includes . .. written verification that the professional sports team will play the national anthem of the United States at the start of each team sports event held at the team’s home or other facility controlled by the team for the event .
Gregory noted that he and his wife are both military veterans, which is one of the reasons he is so passionate about the anthem issue.
“I think showing respect for our country and our flag is really a civic responsibility,” he said.
Mark Cuban had critics and supporters for stopping the anthem at Dallas Mavericks games
Cuba’s decision to stop playing the anthem drew criticism from the right, but former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy applauded the decision before the Mavericks changed course.
“This should happen everywhere,” Van Gundy tweeted. “If you think the anthem should be played before sporting events, then play it before every movie, concert, church service, and the start of every working day at every company. What good reason is there to play the anthem before a match?
Texas State Representative Gene Wu, D-Houston, called the anthem legislation “blatantly and aggressively unconstitutional,” according to the Texas Tribune.
Follow Herald-Tribune political editor Zac Anderson on Twitter at @zacjanderson. He can be contacted at [email protected]