Sports used to be fertile ground for celebrating patriotism, but in recent years love of country has given way to social justice crusades and virtual signaling by players, owners, and coaches. Hockey fans and players, however, consistently demonstrate that loyalty to America is still alive and kicking in the athletic arena.
While many Americans likely see hockey as a Canadian sport, the National Hockey League (NHL) has shown itself to be one of the only professional sports leagues that isn’t given over to anti-American sentiment. Anthem protests have become commonplace in the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), but they are rare in the NHL.
Last night, hockey fans affirmed their love of country during the New York Islanders’ Game 6 playoff win over the Boston Bruins. Nicole Raviv, living the dream of any young performing artist, began belting out the “Star-Spangled Banner” when the sold-out crowd joined in to sing along in unison. Raviv, showing class and grace, ceded the microphone to the crowd to allow them to deliver a stirring moment for those who love the U.S.A. Fans kept on singing the national anthem loudly and proudly and Raviv joined in again at the end of the song. She later tweeted, “Thank you @NHLonNBCSports! Playoff hockey is magical.”
Most Americans would get goosebumps at hearing such a joyous singing of the national anthem, but many on the left believe the flag and the “Star-Spangled Banner” are dangerous and offensive. New York Times columnist and MSNBC contributor Mara Gay recently described the sight of dozens of pickup trucks flying American flags on Long Island as “disturbing” and claimed that Old Glory is a symbol of white people saying, “This is my country, this is not your country, I own this.”
This patriotic display and the millions of Americans of all colors and creeds who proudly fly the American flag at their homes, on their vehicles, and at sporting events show the disconnect between leftist “woke” sports leagues and most sports fans.
New Orleans Pelicans’ head coach Stan Van Gundy, for example, agreed with the decision by Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban to no longer play the national anthem before games, stating, “This should happen everywhere. If you think the anthem needs to be played before sporting events, then play it before every movie, concert, church service and the start of every work day at every business. What good reason is there to play the anthem before a game?”
The reason the national anthem is played before sporting events is because there is a longstanding tradition behind it. Americans love their country and they love to celebrate it when we gather together. Whether it’s Yankees-Red Sox, Georgia-Florida, Duke-UNC, Chiefs-Raiders, Islanders-Bruins, or Alabama-Auburn, there is no rivalry that can’t be overcome by patriotism. Whatever our differences, we bond over the recognition that we are a free people who share a unique culture and a common heritage — no matter your race, where you were born, your profession, or how much money you have.
The idea that Americans would come together for love of country scares the left because they want Americans to view America as irredeemably flawed and racist — right down to its Founding and its symbols. If they can destroy how people view America, they can reshape it into a twisted socialist monstrosity and control the hearts, minds, and actions of the American people.
During an interview, Gay tried to justify her disdain for the American flag and the values it stands for by saying that the owners of the pickup trucks she saw featured “explicatives” about President Joe Biden, and the host agreed that it was disturbing. This is the same left that spent four years portraying the former president as Hitler and fantasized about killing him and his family, but a few Americans expressing displeasure with Biden and his policies is “disturbing” and racist?
Cut the theater. Most Americans aren’t buying it. The late conservative icon Rush Limbaugh used to speak of celebrating American exceptionalism, a concept that enrages the left. No matter how hard the left tries to run this country down, most Americans are instinctively patriotic, just as citizens around the world are. Americans have a particular reason to be celebrate their country, however. America as founded is the greatest beacon of freedom in human history.
Patriotism may be uncouth or even a taboo in “elite” society, but to everyday Americans, it is a cherished virtue. Jimmy Stewart was once one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, but that didn’t stop him from serving his country. Stewart remained in the military for decades, rising to the rank of brigadier general. In 1985, he was promoted to the rank of major general and given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by his old friend and fellow actor President Ronald Reagan. Stewart once said, “It may sound corny, but what’s wrong with wanting to fight for your country. Why are people reluctant to use the word ‘patriotism?’”
Hollywood in 2021 is a long way from flying combat missions and loving and serving America like Stewart did and, unfortunately, the gap between the liberal elite and the average American is also growing.
Hockey also has a legacy of patriotism. The 1980 U.S. Men’s Olympic team, memorialized in the Disney movie “Miracle,” captured the hearts of the nation by bringing together a ragtag and diverse group of underdogs to defeat the mighty Soviet Union in what became known as “The Miracle on Ice.” Their dramatic gold-medal winning performance came at a time when Americans felt deflated after years of weak leadership from Democratic President Jimmy Carter, the hostage crisis in Iran, high inflation, and long gas lines.
Now America finds itself in another time of weak leadership from a Democratic president in Joe Biden. Perhaps hockey and emotional, patriotic moments like we saw from the New York Islanders’ fans can reignite the American spirit today like it did decades ago.