Feb 10, 2021 - Sports

Dallas Mavericks ditch national anthem

Picture of Mark Cuban

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks haven't played the national anthem during home games this season and don't plan to play it moving forward, owner Mark Cuban confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: The Mavericks are believed to be the first American professional sports team to cease playing the anthem at home.

  • MLS teams didn't play the anthem during last summer's Orlando tournament because the league didn't feel it was "appropriate" without fans in the stands.
  • But teams resumed the tradition once they returned to their home stadiums.

What they're saying: Cuban provided no further comment after the change was first reported by The Athletic, simply telling me: "We haven't played it yet this season. This is the first time it's come up."

  • In June, Cuban expressed support for players kneeling, telling ESPN: "If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I'd be proud of them. Hopefully I'd join them."
  • In July, he tweeted, "The national anthem police in this country are out of control. If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why they don't play the national anthem every day before you start work."

The state of play: Dallas never formally announced the new policy, but Cuban was allowed to enact it because the NBA has permitted teams "to run their pregame operations as they see fit" this season, per a league spokesman.

The backdrop: The NBA requires players to stand for the anthem, but the league hasn't enforced the rule in recent years as kneeling became a method of protest.

  • In that context, the Mavericks' decision could be viewed as the team simply doing away with a tradition that has taken on a life of its own.
  • Of note: Many NBA teams kneeled during the anthem last month following the Capitol siege and news that the police officers who shot Jacob Blake wouldn't face charges. The Mavericks (away at Denver) were one of them.

History lesson ... The "Star-Spangled Banner" was played at a few sporting events in the 1800s, but it made its mainstream debut during the 1918 World Series (Red Sox vs. Cubs), which took place amid World War I and a global pandemic.

  • By 1931, it had become the official U.S. national anthem.
  • By the end of World War II, the NFL required it be played at every game.
  • The tradition quickly spread to other sports, thanks to post-World War II patriotism and better PA systems.

Go deeper: How sports met "The Star-Spangled Banner" (NPR)

Go deeper