The stand at Gosport Borough F.C., Privett Park, Gosport

My hometown soccer team played its games in a public park.

That’s right.

Gosport Borough F.C.–the semi-professional soccer team where I grew up–played home games in a fairly humble stadium in the midst of a public park.

The main stand is smaller than those in many high school stadiums in this country.

And when the match starts, there’s no national anthem. No flags flutter atop large posts. There are no fly-bys or color guards.

The match simply starts with a whistle and a cheer. The British national anthem is something that’s sung

_98226326_penceVice President Mike Pence’s counter-protest, his leaving a football game upon beholding players taking a knee during the national anthem, has raised this issue to the surface once more.

According to reports, it seemed the Veep flew to Indianapolis solely for the chance to protest, well, a protest.  

Reading coverage of the back-and-forth between NFL players, owners, politicians, and talking heads made me curious as to the disconnect.

Why is the national anthem such a big deal at sporting events in the United States?