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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

14 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

14 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 14 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."