After taking a ten-month sabbatical in 2020 because of COVID-19, Wisconsin Republicans are hard at work this year. Oh, they're not doing anything helpful or useful, like actually helping people. No, nothing like that. Just the usual shit of giving even more tax breaks to the wealthy, enforcing further voter suppression laws and wasting time on trivial, pointless bills.
The latest of these political stunts is introducing a bill that would mandate the playing of the national anthem at any field or ballpark that had received taxpayer money, regardless of venue size or age of the athletes:
The bill, authored by Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point), would require the Star Spangled Banner be played before any sporting event taking place at a facility that was built with taxpayer funds. This includes professional stadiums such as Lambeau Field, American Family Field and Fiserv Forum as well as the public parks and school fields that most of the state’s youth sports are played on.
Obviously, it's never too early to start indoctrinating Little Bobby and Little Suzy before their peewee soccer game. And I'm sure that it will be really easy to make all these four and five year old kids stand at attention for the anthem. The only way I could see that happening would be if they changed the song to the Baby Shark song or something.
The bill is already seeing a groundswell of resistance, Democratic State Senator Kelda Roys calls it absurd and the Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association has a lot of questions about the proposed law:
“It’s absurd,” Roys says. “The idea that before my three-year-old plays T-ball, on her team of tiny people, that we’re supposed to sing the national anthem is laughable.”
The Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association — made up of more than 1,200 park officials across the state who hold thousands of sporting events every year — normally advocates for state stewardship of public lands and increased local government funding. But after the introduction of this bill in March, the group sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Legal Review and Consumer Protection to push for an amendment to the bill that would exempt facilities with capacity under 500 people.
“Our members wholeheartedly support the playing or singing of the national anthem at games and events,” the letter states. “However, depending on the appropriate venue and league level, this administratively could be unmanageable. Would equipment be needed at every youth sports game on local fields? How could this affect the timing of keeping activities on schedule? Would a recreational staff person have to attend each game to ensure the anthem is played? Would we need to add more staff to ensure compliance?”
The letter also asks how officials of youth sports tournaments would follow the law. If there are 50 soccer games happening in one day at a public park, does the anthem need to be played before every game, or just at the beginning?
Unbelievably, the bill passed with 14 Democratic votes.
To prove that this was nothing but a political stunt for the Fourth of July, the law does not include any enforcement system. That means if someone decides not to comply with this law, nothing will happen to them.
As Roys asked, why not just pass a resolution to support the anthem or write up a plaque?
However, when the anthem is playing, I'm always standing, like most game attendees, in line for the bathroom or the concession stand.