Skip to comments.Great at Athletics, Not at Anthems (U.S. Gold Medalists Can't/Won't Sing the National Anthem)
Posted on 02/20/2010 7:37:58 AM PST by tellw
'Oh, Say, Can You See, by the...Um...Help!'
They can ski down steep slopes at lightning speeds, perform quad spins on ice and do backflips on halfpipes, so how's this for a new, novel Olympic challenge: Singing your country's national anthem on the medal stand.
A scant 21.2% of gold-medal winners in these Games actually sang their entire national anthem, with an additional 18.2% mustering bits and pieces while mumbling or entirely missing other parts, according to a Wall Street Journal study of 33 winners through Thursday's events.
Six Americans were part of this assessment and only one, snowboarder Seth Wescott, sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at all (though he stumbled over the lyrics a couple times). Another American snowboarder, Shaun White, didn't sing at allhe was busy pointing to the crowd, pumping his fists and playing the air guitar. This shouldn't be surprising: A 2004 Harris Poll survey of 2,200 Americans showed 61% didn't know all the words to the national anthem.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Reminds me of a story I once heard about a couple of hundred people on an international flight whose plane was stranded on the tarmac during a long delay. To pass the time the passengers, who comprised a number of different nationalities, took turns singing their respective national anthems. When the Americans’ turn came around, they sang “the Ballad of Gilligan’s Island.”
This is part and parcel a result of what goes on in our schools. People of a certain age know the words to the Star Spangled Banner, younger people don’t. It is not written in swahili. There is no reason people can’t be taught to sing that song, or at least mouth the words.
I haven’t watched any of it so far.
Is there anything worth looking at?
And Shani Davis couldn’t bring himself to put his hand on his heart during our national anthem.
Well he is from Chicago.........
Goes back to education in this country. Regardless of the subject. Our schools have become indoctrination.
Since when are the athletes supposed to sing the National Anthem?
It’s an octave an four. What do you expect in a country where band and choir are totally optional and classical music training is ridiculed. For me, a classically trained singer, the song goes through four registers and it splits between chest and head registers. We don’t teach kids how to sing through this anymore. The phrasing of the Star Spangled Banner isn’t the easiest, either. Not knowing all the words - now that’s pathetic.
Maybe writer has a point, but maybe not. If he contends that younger Americans don’t know the words, he has a point (if that is a fact). If he’s complaining because they don’t sing the anthem, he doesn’t have a point. I recall few gold medal winners who actually sang along during a medal presentation. Most don’t, and didn’t in the past. - Most people don’t sing anything in public unless somehow required to do so.
I turned to her in astonishment, she said she was helping her Chinese next door neighbor practice her cultural school homework.
Having not watched the games at all, I thought Shaun White was a girl, “What’s a girl doing getting a medal with guys?”
I used to stand at attention or in military formation all the time for the National Anthem. I was never expected to sing it.
I can sing it, so that’s a different issue.
However, singing it when it’s being played has never been a requirement anyplace I’ve been.
The writer has a point but chose IMO the wrong venue to vent it.
Gold medal winners not singing it doesn’t mean they don’t know the words, It most likely means they don’t want to embarrass themselves with singing in public.
I haven’t seen other countries’ athletes sing theirs either.
I wish the WSJ writer had found another way to bring this up. I think it is valid and reflective or our schools.
I wonder if odumbo knows the words? I am guessing not.
btw it is You’re, as in you are not sure of the words.
Great Vid, thanks
This is a pet peeve of mine; the idea that one puts one's hands over one's heart during the National Anthem. I grew up in the fifties and sixties, living exclusively on military installations, at a time when respect for the National Anthem was considered absolutely obligatory, and I was never schooled to do so; simply to stand at attention respectfully and face the flag. Placing the hand over the heart is a symbol of one's fealty to a pledge or an oath, not respect.
You could get you're ass kicked.
The older generations today can sing the national anthem because when they were young and they went to an event, the announcer said, "Please stand and join in the singing of our National Anthem." For the past twenty years the announcer has said, "Please stand as (insert name of performer here) performs our National Anthem." Where do young people get the opportunity to sing the National Anthem anymore? They don't because it is always being performed.
The practice should change where the performance is of something like America the Beautiful and then everyone joins in the singing of the anthem. Young people would learn the words again.
We have an almost unsingable national anthem. I’ve been in various church choirs, but I would never humiliate myself by trying to sing the Star Spangled Banner!
And let’s face it - the lyrics stink as well - try singing the 3rd verse sometime in public:
O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
I have seen many, many fine American athletesas I am sure many on this thread havestanding at attention with quiet dignity, with tears rolling down their faces (the telephoto lenses obviously dismiss privacy) at this time.
Knowing who some of these athletes are, I know they are patriots indeed
When you have winners on that platform who are clowning or fidgeting at the time a national anthem is playedwhatever the nationthen that is bad and usually disgusting behavior.
A few days ago, flipping through channels, I got the Ellen Degeneres show. She does some games with audience members. One, a young latina, was asked to name the 13 original colonies....she says, N.J.....New York....CANADA....
CANADA! I was a bit surprised she didn’t say Mexico.
I turned to NBC four times over the opening weekend and watched for half an hour each time. There was no action, just talking. Turned it off.
Some actually DID cover their hearts, some actually kept their eyes on the Grand Old Flag during the playing, some actually kept a respectful countenance and some DID try not to look completely bored with the whole minute or so extracted from their busy lives.
It's NOT a generational thing......their instructors, coaches and parents should have (and may have) educated them long, long ago on Anthem protocol and good manners. These athletes have been on podiums before.....and not ALL of them are teen-age yutes.
The best moment of the olympics the last few years was Apolo Ono winning his first medal. The smug and cocky little boy stood on the podium getting his just reward. Then the national anthem rang out. His face contorted and tears welled up in his eyes. A boy became a man as he soak in the gravity of his victory. It was a beautiful moment.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the vocal range to sing it beautifully. The 1998 U.S. Women’s ice hockey team belted out the anthem totally off tune but it didn’t matter, they knew the words and they delivered it!!
I did see one girl, don’t ask me which sport, but we got the fold and the bronze. The one getting the bronze was singing the anthem enthusiastically. A joy to see.
When we go to an athletic event and the band plays the Star Spangled Banner, I sing. Yes, really. And next time, I will sing even louder. It is a sad day when people who live in the greatest country on earth cannot even open their mouths to sing in celebration.
Let’s reestablish the tradition!
Hah - bad typing skills. Of course I meant the Gold, not fold.
I saw that too, it could have been women’s downhill.
Most of the athletes are fighting back emotions and probably cannot even remember the words not to mention it is one of the hardest songs to sing ever.
A lot of people don’t sing the National Anthem at our football games either and the words are on the screen. Our singers are good and people don’t bother trying to sing but if you play God Bless America you will hear people singing all around.
Why don’t some of the ones on here try standing on a stage after just winning a gold medal they have worked all their life for and try to get the words of this song to come in their mind. As the athletes have been interviewed, all talk about what was going through their mind at the time and it involved their family, training, etc.
People need to cut these athletes some slack whether they put their hand over their heart or don’t sing or don’t look up because they are emotional and this is an event that comes along usually once in a lifetime for most.
How many verses?
Thank you! When I worked on a military installation and retreat was sounded you were to stand at attention and face the flag. When you say the Pledge of Allegiance you hold your hand over your heart.
Try verse 3 - folks WILL stare!
A group belted out the song — must easier to remember words when everyone around you is singing then when you are standing on the podium alone.
Especially when you're the Secretary of State.
‘....their instructors, coaches and parents should have (and may have) educated them long, long ago on Anthem protocol and good manners....’
Agree. It was very iritating to watch some of the U.S. gold medal winners who did not place their hands over their hearts when our Anthem was played. These athletes are representing the United States of America and they should be required to show respect for our country, our flag and our Anthem. I presume they receive, at least, some funding or housing paid for by donations by Americans. They surely deserve to be happy and proud of their personal accomplishments but they NEED to remember they are representing the U.S. and should show some respect .....and patriotism would be nice but this, sadly, seems to be ‘passe’ these days.
One of the athletes didn’t place his hand over his heart but he also barely looked at our beautiful flag......he didn’t look happy to hear the anthem and looked at the ground most of the time the anthem was played.....if he’s not proud of the U.S. then he should not be representing our great nation.
How many are brainwashed by schools/media to haate their own country?
I remember a summer olympics where a punk American breast stroker won the gold. When he was on the podium and the national anthem started, you could see him struggling to hold in his emotions.
There is no way I could sing the national anthem when being awarded the gold medal. I would break down in tears of joy and pride for winning a medal for my great country.
I don’t worry about them “singing” the anthem. I have been somewhat concerned that the athletes can’t even stand still and show some amount of respect when anthems are played. Many of them are wiggling about, giggling, waving, making silly faces. And it isn’t just the Americans. Saw an Australian gal that looked like she should have went to the bathroom before she accepted her medal.
I do sing fairly well and have no problem with the national anthem. I do know from experience, that it is very difficult to sing in a situation which could bring you to tears. I had to sing at a couple of funerals. I had to totally divorce myself from the emotions of the event or I wouldn’t have made it through the pieces I was asked to sing.
Much ado about nothing. Been watching, and most of these kids show proper respect, even if they aren’t sure of all the words. Plus, as others have pointed out, the school systems do a rot, rot, rotten job of teaching patriotic stuff these days.
Beats the heck out of all the NASCAR drivers and NFL players who stand there without even putting their hand over their heart when the anthem is sung.
Our country has been winning a slew of medals, and our competitors have been pretty darn classy.
This wasn’t an American, but I was really impressed with some guy...think he was Swiss...he fell spectacularly during the Super G...IIRC, he’s old enough that this was probably his last chance to win a medal in that event, and now that’s impossible...he gets up off the snow, looks around, spins one ski pole around for the crowd like a dancer with a cane, then plants the pole and still pretending it’s a cane, walks off with this stylish gait and a big smile. There’s a guy who has his priorities straight. Even at that level, it’s just a game.
[if hes not proud of the U.S. then he should not be representing our great nation.]
Exactly; and you can bet your arse he won’t have any problems holding his eyes up while cashing the checks the privilege of doing so will afford him either.
Love it or leave it, punks.
What do you expect? He voted for Obama just to vote against McCain and Republicans, and probably would have voted for the Green party in other years. He probably also hates American values.
Wait a minute. You'e supposed to remove your hat and place your right hand over your heart for the Pledge of Allegience. Not the National Anthem.
The confusion comes in because you see on military installations that personnel will salute when in uniform or otherwise stand at attention during colors, during which the Star Spangled Banner is played. It's the flag we're honoring; not the song.
I would expect the athletes and those in the audience to do the same thing. Stand respectfully while the national flag is raised.
I agree that Shaun White and his air guitar was the worst.
I don’t think they have to sing along, just behave respectfully.
Who cares whether they sing it or not? I know that if I won a Gold medal, I would be crying on the podium if I attempted to sing it. I tear up in my living room during the anthem of dumb ol’ baseball and football games.