While all the buzz remains planted on the big boys in the National Football League, it’s important to remember the National Anthem means something to the little guys as well.
Not to sound too political, but these are certainly interesting times that we’re living in.
It’s unfortunate that we’re spending a lot of time mixing politics and sports in recent days, but that’s the climate that we’re currently facing and one of the most challenging aspects of what’s going on in the world is having to explain all of this to a child. As it pertains to youth football, what’s happening in the NFL, particularly this past weekend, how it affects the kids is certainly a concern.
As my wife Sheryl likes to say, “Sometimes adults need to look at life through the eyes of a child.”
If we all spent just a few minutes a day doing that, I think we’d all be better off. When it comes to the national anthem, the tradition is also commonplace in youth football and I’m curious to see how things play out. On the field, kids love to emulate their favorite players so you have to wonder if the actions taken by NFL players and staff this past weekend will have an affect on kids during this season.
I’ve had the privilege of doing public address for my son Bradley’s games over the last few seasons. Part of that job also includes playing music during warmups and then playing them national anthem over the sound system. When Bradley’s former program finally installed a PA system, he was so excited because it meant getting to line up on the sideline for the anthem just like he’s seen at NFL games in person and on television.
We’ve also involved the siblings of the players with the anthem tradition by having Bradley’s brother Jared and the other kids carry an American flag out to the center of the field. It’s a really special feeling to see all of this unfold and to appreciate how these kids understand what the flag is all about and what it means to hear the anthem and sing along.
My objective is not to tell anybody what they should do during the anthem as far as standing, sitting, taking a knee or whatever, but what I will say is that I think it’s important for the anthem to be played at youth football games whether you have a PA system or not. If you do, be creative with it. See if anyone in the program can sing the anthem or knows someone who can. You could also play a recording of it over the PA or even from a portable device just as long as the players and spectators can hear it.
I love the national anthem. In fact, I get goosebumps hearing it sometimes depending on who’s singing it or what the circumstances are. When I’m at a game, I like to also look around and see what other people are doing or how they’re reacting. I plan on doing the same thing this Sunday at Bradley’s game. I’ll be paying special attention to the players and also to Jared and the siblings to see how they’re reacting to it.
For a few minutes, I’m going to block out what’s going on in the world and look at things through the eyes of the kids. It would be even better if I could hold my wife’s hands during the anthem. She may have to come up to the booth anyway because there’s a chance I’ll need some Kleenex.
Peter is a sports anchor for the CBS Sports Radio Network and WCBS 880 Radio in New York. His son Bradley plays youth football on Long Island while his younger son Jared plays flag football. Peter, his wife Sheryl and the boys are busy cheering on the New York Jets when they’re not at a youth football field.
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