The national anthem at Capitals games makes me angry.
Let’s set the Wayback Machine to Opening Night, October 7, 2006. Four soldiers from the United States Army chorus stepped onto the ice in dress uniforms and belted out an impressive rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. As their inspired performance drew to a close, a feeling of dread stole over me… surely Caps fans would finally stop embarrassing themselves this season! I held out hope that, other than a scattered and misguided few, the only sound I’d hear was the anthem itself and wild cheering at its conclusion.
But no. A loud “O!” rose from the crowd during the line “O! say does that star-spangled Banner yet wave.” My dread changed to a full-body cringe.
Two salient points to discuss:
Point #1: Listen people, it’s quite simple: remove your hat, face the flag, and sing along or stand silently. It’s disrespectful to shout crap during the anthem. Rein in your ADHD for a minute-and-a-half and show some class.
Point #2: YOU’RE AT A HOCKEY GAME, not an Orioles game. It’s bad enough that Orioles’ fans choose to soil the anthem with a horrific burst of karaoke, but what they do in Camden Yards is their business. Setting aside the disrespect for a moment, why would someone think that bringing an Orioles-specific tradition to a Caps game makes sense? What’s next, singing “Hail to the Redskins” after goals and chanting “Let’s Go Nats?” Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Try explaining the “O” to an out-of-town guest at a Caps’ game and you’ll know what I mean. And no, we shouldn’t change it to “O-vi” or “O-lie” — Point #1 still applies.
Every time someone shouts “O!” during the anthem, I want to serve them a steaming cup of shut the @*#% up. Thankfully many Caps fans don’t participate in this travesty, but too many others ignore common sense and seem to think they’re at an Orioles game. For the record, if the players are wearing skates, it’s not baseball.
Only once did I hear the anthem treated with unanimous respect at a Capitals game: the preseason game on September 18, 2001. Not a single “O!” It was a profoundly moving experience, moreso in light of the prior week’s events, and one I’ll never forget.
We need to kick this “tradition” out of our nation’s capital — a place that should show more reverence for the anthem than anywhere else. Please, Caps fans, make a New Year’s resolution to show respect to our anthem, and to the sport we love.