The NBA’s Dallas Mavericks have become the first U.S. pro sports team to stop playing the national anthem pregame.
Owner Mark Cuban confirmed to Tim Cato of TheAthletic.com that none of team’s 13 preseason and regular-season home games this season have featured the anthem. Cuban declined to elaborate or explain.
The Mavericks did not publicize the decision to cease playing the national anthem and TheAthletic.com apparently became the first media organization to notice Monday night. That raises a question about why sports teams feel compelled to play the national anthem pregame and opens a debate about whether they should.
An NBA spokesperson told Cato that “under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.”
The NBA’s rules require players to stand during the anthem, but the league has not enforced it in recent years, allowing players to kneel in protest of social injustice.
So it bears watching whether other professional sports teams — or leagues — now follow the Mavericks’ lead in dropping the national anthem pregame.