The broad insistence on “respect” for the national anthem by the NFL, coupled with the President’s suggestion that anyone who fails to stand proudly for the anthem “maybe . . . shouldn’t be in the country,” fairly should bring unprecedented attention to the behavior of everyone attending an NFL game, including the fans.
Apart from fans not standing or not taking their hats off or or not getting their faces out of their phones or yelling profanities at easy-target players who are standing motionless during the anthem or going to the bathroom (either in the bathroom or elsewhere) or standing in line to buy a hotdog or hobnobbing in a luxury suite, there’s a specific tradition at Arrowhead Stadium, where 70,000-plus fans commemorate the last word of the anthem (“brave”) by shouting “Chiefs!”
So will the Chiefs be asking Chiefs fans not to turn the last word of the anthem into a pre-kick battle cry?
“[O]ur plan is encourage everyone in our stadium to stand and respect the anthem,” team spokesman Ted Crews told PFT via text message on Thursday.
Crews specifically declined to address the question of whether drowning out the last word of the song with a word that isn’t part of the song constitutes “respect” for the anthem. At some point, however, the Chiefs likely will have to cross that bridge, because the NFL’s latest effort to close the door on the anthem issue has opened plenty of others, as fan behavior during the anthem becomes a belated focal point in the effort to determine whether the respect that the league and the President demand from the players is being demonstrated by anyone and everyone who is in the venue.