Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Chicago Blackhawks Dropped the Flag

The City of Chicago is celebrating, but I'm not.  Our hockey team, the Blackhawks, have won the Stanley Cup.  Apparently that's the equivalent of baseball's World Series, which I will celebrate when the Cubs win.  Yeah, I know—I'm not holding my breath.  Back around the Turn of the Century (the last one, 1900 or so) Sam Sianis of Billy Goat's tavern tried to take his goat to a baseball game at Wrigley Field.  The Wrigley's refused to allow him to bring the goat into the ballpark and he cursed the Cubs.  They haven't won a World Series since.  I'm not sure if they've even played in one.  In my lifetime they've come close to winning the National League pennant twice, but lost to the New York Mets in 1969 and the San Diego Padres in 1984 (darned clay infield!).  Mr. Sianis' nephew brought a goat into Wrigley Field at the Millenium, but the Cubs still haven't made it.  Apparently his uncle had some pretty strong mojo.  After all, he was the inspiration for the Saturday Night Live "Cheesburger, Cheesburger" skits.

I was raised as a Cubs fan and my heroes were people like Ernie Banks who patiently played first base and hit balls into the bleachers and out onto Waveland and Sheffield Avenues without once ever playing in a World Series game.  Back then players were not free to leave a losing team in favor of a winning one or tell their agents to "show them the money."  Nor did they fight with the umpires (much) or hurl obscenities at the umps or the fans.  There was such a thing as sportsmanship, and that's why my family watched baseball and not hockey.  They didn't approve of people beating each other up with the implements of their sport.

But that's just a part of the game and always has been, apparently, and I wouldn't bother to blog about it.  I'd be glad our Chicago team won and go my own way as I usually do when any of our other teams win.  I am, however, angry at the Blackhawks.  A few years ago I was at the United Center for a performance of the circus and I was dismayed when I was caught in the concourse during the National Anthem and everyone out there but me ignored the song.  I wrote an essay called "The Flag Drooped," and submitted it to the National Veterans' Creative Arts Competition where it won a Bronze Medal.  Well, the flag practically lay on the floor during the hockey playoff that I witnessed on TV when I was caught at Buffalo Wild Wings playing trivia during a recent playoff game.

It was bad enough that very few of the fans bothered to salute properly during the performance of the Star Spangled Banner.  There was a murmur in the background that almost drowned the song out.  People weren't even keeping quiet.  I've grown to expect that.  If they teach respect for the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, or the National Anthem in school, those lessons don't seem to last past the schoolyard gate.  But one would at least expect the athletes to stand still with their hands over their hearts during the performance, as my Cubs used to.  I realize these are not intelligent people and I'm not suggesting we idolize or deify them, but they're the guys on camera and the fans do idolize them.  Companies pay millions of dollars to advertise their wares during these games, and these men make millions of dollars to skate around and hit a piece of rubber with wooden sticks.  The least they can do is stand still with their hands over their hearts during the National Anthem.

I realize many of these guys are not from the United States.  I get a lot of e-mails from my very conservative sister about how people who drive around displaying the flags of other countries from their car windows should get with the program, get green cards, learn English, pay taxes, and display the US flag or go home.

Well, these guys have green cards, they speak enough English to do TV interviews, and they have accountants to evade taxes just like all the other millionaires in this country.  And there they were, on camera, every one of them holding their hockey sticks in their right hands and fidgeting throughout the Star Spangled Banner.  I was absolutely disgusted.

I do not congratulate them on their win.  I am ashamed that they play in my city.  As far as I'm concerned, the flag didn't just droop—the Chicago Blackhawks dropped it.  I forget how many demerits that would have cost a company when I was in Navy boot camp, but I think it would have meant at least an extra week of boot camp doing nothing but cleaning toilets with toothbrushes.  Maybe someone should make the Blackhawks do that.

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