In response to current events in the nation, a semi-professional soccer team has opted to refrain from playing the Star Spangled Banner before their soccer matches. The Tulsa Athletic, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will not play the Star Spangled Banner before matches due to the history of the song’s creator. Woodie Guthrie’s, “This Land Is Your Land,” will be played in lieu of the traditional national Anthem during home games for the Tulsa Athletic.
Conversations are beginning to swirl about Francis Scott Key, the author of the Star Spangled Banner. Key was a slave owner and white supremacist at the time he wrote the anthem during the war of 1812. Many people believe the anthem is outdated and needs to be reworked into a more modernized song.
The Tulsa Athletic have cited the third verse as the reason to cease the poem’s playing, as the verse does not hide its racist beliefs, meaning, and tone. A statement released by Sonny Dalesandro, co-owner of Tulsa Athletic, verbally expressed the reasoning behind the clubs decision to replace the anthem with a new, more accepting song.
The new edition of the anthem will be initially instituted during the upcoming “Equality Cup,” where the Tulsa Athletic will open against the club team from Minneapolis City. The decision to switch the anthem comes in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a Minnepolis father of five. The new song will pay homage to Floyd, allowing audience members to sing along to a song that represents all Americans and all races, instead of one particular group. The new anthem will be played against the Minneapolis City Soccer Club, the team of the city where Floyd resided, which will also pay tribute to the death of the person who catalyzed this movement.
The movement to replace the anthem, however, is not new. Colin Kaepernick, former NFL quarterback, and other prominent figures in sports have called for change and protested the seemingly divisive anthem. Dalesandro hopes that the decision to switch the pre-game song will allow all participants and fans to feel the pride and joy that comes with being an american. He expands upon the meaning of Guthrie’s, “This Land Is Your Land,” by highlighting the fact that all demographics came together to build the country.
The new anthem, the club hopes, will allow every race, gender, nationality, sexuality, and whatever else to feel and be represented. This is part of the new culture in the country that the club is striving to create, where everyone feels equal and included. The club feels that the current national anthem is not an accurate representation of the country they live in and wish to create, so they have decided to exercise their freedom of speech in hopes to better their community, club, and country.