Skip to content

Pa. hockey league dumps National Anthem because it takes too much time … this somehow causes controversy

Nov 14, 2012, 2:45 PM EDT


Some blame the economy for this controversial ruling — I blame global warming. At any rate, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League is discouraging its teams from playing the National Anthem before games, because it takes too much time. And as we know, time is money.

How much money? In Pennsylvania high school hockey, about $300 an hour or more. That’s how much it costs for ice time for one game, and if a game reaches its allotted time, it has to be stopped for financial reasons, even if the clock hasn’t run out.

So if the game has to be stopped with a minute left, and the National Anthem took a minute-and-a-half, a coach could conceivably protest the game because the National Anthem was played.

PIHL Commissioner Ed Sam sent out an email to the 183 high school teams in Central and Western Pennsylvania saying the singing of the National Anthem is not permitted.

“The National Anthem should not be played only because of time constrains,” said Sam. “It’s not that we’re not patriotic, that’s the furthest from the truth.

“Ice is very, very hard to get and it’s not cheap,” said Sam. “We’re talking $300 an hour sometimes or even higher than that.

Many parents and fans are not amused.

“No, they should just extend the time period they have to play the game,” said Melanie Chakrabarti, of Murrysville.

“I go back to the 1960s with high school hockey, and it’s always been a part of it,” said Bob Mock, the skating director at Center Ice. “A part of our history, and it should be a part of the game.”

The PIHL issued a statement declaring that the anthem isn’t technically banned, just “discouraged.” Which is kind of a weak-kneed parsing of words. Either ban it or don’t.

I’ve always said that the playing of the National Anthem before any sporting event is unnecessary — it’s paying lip service to patriotism, like wearing an American flag lapel pin. Jewelry and song mean nothing without actual deeds. Did you know that they only started routinely playing the National Anthem at sporting events during World War II? It was an effort by MLB owners to deflect criticism for playing baseball while Americans were dying overseas. And the practice just stuck.

As for it being traditional, well, so were jump balls after every basket. Things change.

  1. skids003 - Nov 14, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    You know, without this “lip service” to the men and women who have given their lives so we can be free to do what we want, I think we owe it to play it for them. Otherwise, those who think it’s “lip service” need to leave.

    • grudenthediva - Nov 14, 2012 at 10:21 PM

      I have no problem with the anthem being played before every event.

      However, the people that make a huge production about singing said anthem, wearing their flag pins, making sure everyone sees their “Support the Troops” or “My Boyfriend’s Uncle’s Gardener’s Son Plays X-Box Live With A Marine” car magnets, yet who go ignore homeless vets and support politicians who vote against the GI Bill, the Jobs Corps and Retraining Act, and various other ways of actually saying thanks to our veterans, yeah, those are the people who need to get the hell out.

  2. manilovethepftcensors - Nov 14, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    Skids-I’m not exaggerating when I say that literally every comment I have ever read by you on this website has been mind numbingly idiotic but this one takes the cake. In the past I’ve always bit my tongue but you’ve really outdone yourself this time.
    Please shut up for once. You would be doing us all a great service.

  3. skids003 - Nov 15, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    You mean it’s idiotic to just pay “lip service” to our vets? You must really hate this country. I guess you are lucky you live here, that these people put their lives on the line so people like you can hate them.

    If that’s idiotic to people like you, who cares? I certainly don’t.

    • manchestermiracle - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:13 PM

      Conflate much lately, skids? How you get to hating those who serve out of the shallowness of playing a national anthem is beyond me. Sticking your hand over your heart while someone attempts to follow the range of a song the English drank to is hardly being very patriotic. How about not voting for politicians who keep putting our fellow Americans in harm’s way for their own aggrandizement and benefit? Now THAT would be patriotic.

      • skids003 - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:36 PM

        Frankly, I don’t care what the English did. If you are a vet, manchester, then I salute and thank you. Otherwise, I don’t care what they think.

  4. manchestermiracle - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    I’m a veteran and I say playing a song based on a British drinking tune before an athletic contest has little to nothing at all to do with saluting our troops.

  5. dowhatifeellike - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    Forced patriotism is fake patriotism. Patriotism lies in the heart, not on the lips.

  6. myopinionisrighterthanyours - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    And here is a PRIME example with what is wrong with our country right now … the extremism ON BOTH SIDES. Everything is done with an eye towards the next election and not the common good, so it becomes overly partisan and NOTHING gets accomplished. We need to learn from people like Bob Dole and Ted Kennedy who could set aside the pettiness and get things ACCOMPLISHED, no matter who the president was. Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox on this tangent now.

  7. rcali - Nov 15, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    Here’s an idea. Play the song while the teams are warming up. Problem solved. Don’t know why somebody couldn’t have figured this one out.