A new Texas law requires professional teams in the state to play the national anthem before home games or repay any state funding. Owner Mark Cuban allowed the Dallas Mavericks to stop playing the anthem last season to focus on inclusion. The Conservative-backed measure is one of a slew of new controversial bills that went into effect this week.
The Texas legislature passed the so-called “Star Spangle Banner Protection Act” earlier this year in response to the Mavericks decision, Outkick said. The team quietly stopped playing the national anthem at home games at the beginning of last season. Cuban said the reason was to protect those who “do not feel the anthem represents them.”
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick championed the play-or-pay measure. He said in February Texas team owners who don’t like the anthem can leave.
“Texans are tired of sports teams that pander, insulting our National Anthem and the men and women who died fighting for our flag,” Patrick said in a statement in April.
The new law backs up the NBA. In February, the league clarified that teams must play the national anthem no matter what. Cuban relented after the NBA affirmed its policy and began playing the anthem again. Though, he defended his initial decision.
“We feel that their voices need to be respected and heard because they have not been,” Cuban told the Houston Chronicle. “Going forward, our hope is that people will take the same passion they have for this issue and apply the same amount of energy to listen to those who feel differently from them. Only then we can move forward and have courageous conversations that move this country forward and find what unites us.”
Texas Lawmakers: Mark Cuban Forced Our Hand
Mark Cuban outraged Texas lawmakers when the Mavericks stopped playing the national anthem. So, they decided to go after his wallet.
“The stadiums, subsidized by the taxpayers, which host the Mavericks should either condemn [Cuban’s] anti-American decisions and override him; or, return all tax subsidies they have received,” Rep. Dustin Burrows, one of the bill’s sponsors, tweeted in February.
Though, some Democrats said the move was too far.
“I believe the national anthem is even more meaningful when it is played freely, not as a result of legal compulsion,” Rep. John Turner wrote in a statement. “SB4 would change our anthem from something that is played and sung voluntarily at professional sporting events to something that is done because it is mandated by law.”
Some athletes used the playing of the national anthem as a time to protest racial inequities in the country. Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick popularized kneeling during the Star-Spangled Banner as a form of protest. Many others have since followed suit.