Tonight our beloved Los Angeles Dodgers returned to the World Series for the first time in twenty-nine years under blazing sunny skies and a brutal 100+ degrees temperature.  Two burning questions were on everyone’s mind. Would the players be able to withstand the heat and will the team stand for the National Anthem? While the anthem issue was first brought to light back in 2016 by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, it has continued to spark serious debate among players and owners from the NFL and even our President who has added fuel to the fire making the controversy an integral part of his platform.  

It’s no surprise however that baseball – America’s prized sport – stayed out of the fray. The Dodgers made the conscious decision to stand in unison and support our most recognizable symbol complete with hats off and hands over their heart while Keith Williams Jr., a gospel singer from Compton, delivered a heartfelt rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 
I wasn’t a big sports person growing up.  I am rather petite and didn’t exactly exude physical prowess. In middle school, I was always the last one chosen on a team and no one ever passed me the ball. My approach to every game was the same – stay out of the way and dodge the line of fire. I spent more time bench warming than actual playing. In high school, I tried out for dance. Much more my speed. Needless to say, I didn’t have a great deal of experience with sports-related anything. 

Not until I became a mother and a fan at my daughters’ sporting events did I truly pay attention to the practices that were standard on fields and courts everywhere.  It never dawned on me how many meaningful rituals and traditions were associated with athletic games. Watching these kids stand up straight, remove their caps, and place their hands over their hearts to sing the National Anthem was such a respectful way to begin the game.  And then witnessing each player, whether winner or loser, shake hands with opposing teammates and say an enthusiastic ‘good game’ was such a dignified way to end.  

There is great meaning in practicing these small acts of ceremony.  In their most basic form, they help set the tone for the game and remind everyone to act in a civilized manner.  When a collective mass – from the players on the field, to the spectators in the stands, and the viewers at home – stops and pays their respects to the flag, it is a significant gesture unifying our country even for a fraction of a second. These observances are an important piece of our makeup and they are what connect us as a nation.  In uncertain times and with countless threats to our homeland both internally and abroad, any opportunity to display patriotism should be a welcome gracious gesture for all. 

Go Blue!  Keep the winning streak going in Game 2!!