State Republican wants to require national anthem in Wisconsin

The national anthem would have to be played before all sporting events at Lambeau Field, the Fiserv Forum and all other Wisconsin venues that have received taxpayer money under a bill introduced Thursday in the state Legislature by a Republican lawmaker.

The proposal from Sen. Patrick Testin, of Stevens Point, comes after the Dallas Mavericks did not play "The Star-Spangled Banner" before home games earlier this season. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban agreed to play the national anthem after the NBA reiterated its policy to include the song.

"Hearing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner' at a sporting event reminds us that despite our differences, we have something in common – we are Americans," Testin said in a statement announcing his bill. "This tradition traces its roots back more than a century – even pre-dating the song’s adoption as the national anthem. It’s a practice that unites us, and I believe it’s worth preserving."

The bill simply says that no sporting event may be held in a venue constructed at least in part with public money unless the national anthem is played or sung. There are no penalties for violating the requirement.

Testin said veterans groups the Wisconsin American Legion and VFW Department of Wisconsin support the measure, which would have to pass the GOP-controlled Legislature and be signed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers before becoming law.

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Evers' spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the measure.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has said that requiring the national anthem at all Texas venues that receive public funding will be among his top legislative priorities this session.

The pregame national anthem is a staple of American sports at both the professional and collegiate level, but is far less commonplace at pro sporting events in other countries. Athlete protests of social and racial injustice during the "The Star-Spangled Banner" became a flashpoint between then-President Donald Trump and various leagues during his administration.

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