I believe when you play a team sport you never try to make yourself stand out as an individual.
Now I will admit I am an old school guy, especially when it comes to sports. I believe in traditions and unwritten rules. I think when you've been blessed to get so much out of a game as a player you owe it to the game to give something back when you're done. And I believe when you play a team sport you never try to make yourself stand out as an individual.
I also believe in respect and honor, especially when it comes to those who put their lives on the line so I had the freedom to play the sports I loved, many who sacrificed their last breath so I could do so. And I always considered it part of my job as a team player, my duty as an American, and my privilege as an athlete to stand and pay tribute to those folks each time before I stepped onto the field of battle. I kind of felt like I was honoring them back by going out and giving everything I had in battle each game.
More than anything else I knew, without anyone having to tell me and without having to take a class or go to a seminar, those couple of minutes before a game had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the men and women of all races, backgrounds, income levels, education and family situations who put country above self and answered the call of the red, white and blue without contemplating the fairness of it all.
I know our county is not perfect; no country is. I am not one to bury my head in the sand and claim everyone is treated fairly and no injustices exist. And I respect and will fight for everyone's freedom of speech and expression but, there is an appropriate place and time for you to exercise that right. During the National Anthem before a sporting event is not that place and time.
It makes me angry that a select few over paid, under performing athletes have taken it upon themselves to subvert this sacred time to stage their own selfish protests. I get disgusted when I see a guy who says he's a team player separate himself and allow his individual actions to bring embarrassment to the group. I'm saddened when I then see a group of kids emulate that behavior because their 'hero' did it, yet not even knowing truly why.
I don't know about you but I am not going to let those select few or those who are enabling them, keep me from watching my favorite game. But what I will do now every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner is stand a little taller, salute a little prouder and sing a little louder to clearly honor those who won my right to do so. Maybe if we all focused on doing the same thing, we wouldn't notice the spoiled athletes who somehow have come to believe that this time is about them.
Contact Matt Cole by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MacSentinel.