Playing for your country, a dream most of us athletes have as we grow up. No greater honor than playing in your country’s uniform and winning a medal or trophy. As a fan, I love watching the Olympics and events in which the USA has a competitive team. The feelings are different than rooting for my favorite professional and college teams. There is a cohesiveness because the entire nation is represented, not just a city or region.
My favorite international events are the World Cup, EURO Championships, CONCACAF Championships, and Copa America soccer championships. Yes, I played soccer my whole life and watch professional leagues now, so that helps. Beyond that fact, the passion players and fans have representing their countries for soccer is more than other international sports like basketball and hockey. Whole countries come to a stop when their teams play. It is a national day of mourning or celebration depending on the outcome.
One of the most patriotic scenes is the playing of each country’s national anthem before the game. For every game in every round, the players and fans sing loudly and proudly, REGARDLESS of political affiliations and views. How can this be? They all surely cannot agree with what their governments are doing back home, yet that doesn’t matter when representing their families and neighbors. Everyone at least appears to be grateful and happy in their moment, showing the world the pride of their nationality. As American athletes and fans, that is not always the case.
America is the great experiment in freedom with our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. We are the worldwide leaders in democracy and economic development. No other country allows the freedom of expression and ability to leave and return home as we do. Other countries look up to us because of our freedoms. When the opportunity arises to represent the United States of America as a fan or player, why would we show anything but gratitude and patriotism REGARDLESS of our political affiliations and views?
Somewhere along the way Americans stopped being proud of their country and now choose not to sing, mock people that do sing, look ashamed when the national anthem is played, or hide their heads in a towel. Once again REGARDLESS of political affiliations and views, it is an honor and privilege to represent America. Millions of people around the world risk their lives to be in our country every year. Our heads are so far up our asses to notice how ungrateful we are for being born in a free society. The door is open to live somewhere else and become a citizen of another country for those ashamed to be Americans.
I applaud the patriotism shown by every athlete and fan this year at the UEFA Championships. You are proud and courageous to show your love for your country through your own struggles and strife. There will always be two opposing sides to any government. Showing the world, you can unite and find a common ground through sports soothes the soul for all involved. Also, kudos to ESPN for showing both national anthems, the players, and the fans while the songs are being played. No backlash from groups whose feelings are hurt on either side of the aisle.
Americans, we need to stop the entitlement and be proud of our flag, our athletes, and our country when in international competitions. Singing, holding your hand over your heart, and standing cost no money and prove we can unite over a common good. For at least the length of the game, we can be on the same team and support those on the field. The athletes can show their support by being proud and showing respect while the national anthem is played for THEM. Lest Americans forget a war dividing friends and families was fought to achieve independence from England. Take up your flag, Americans, and be proud of who you are like citizens of other countries are proud of who they are.