Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has never been shy about his political views. Now, news has broken that Mark has requested that the team no longer play the national anthem before home games. Thus far this season, the team has not played the anthem during any of its 11 home games, and a spokesperson for the team said that they are not planning to play the anthem moving forward.
Why are the Dallas Mavericks not playing the National Anthem? It was Mark Cuban's decision.
Although reports suggest that Mark asked the team to stop playing the anthem, no official reason was given for this decision. After the news began to circulate, though, it became clear that the decision would be a controversial one. The NBA has an official anthem policy that states: "Players, coaches and trainers must stand and line up in a dignified posture along the foul lines during the playing of the American and/or Canadian national anthems."
Mark's decision would seem to be in conflict with this policy, although it's unclear whether the NBA plans to take any disciplinary action against the team for failing to comply. During the NBA's bubble season last year in Orlando, NBA commissioner Adam Silver declined to enforce the policy as players were kneeling during the anthem to protest police brutality.
Mark Cuban has been outspoken about his belief in peaceful protest.
When controversies around player protests of the anthem have come up in the past, Mark Cuban has been clear about his belief that players should have a right to free expression. "Whether it's holding an arm up in the air, whether it's taking a knee, whatever it is, I don't think this is an issue of respect or disrespect to the flag or to the anthem or to our country," the billionaire said.
"I think this is more a reflection of our players' commitment to this country, and the fact that it's so important to them that they're willing to say what's in their heart and do what they think is right," he continued, adding that he would allow his players to speak and act freely.
"I'll stand in unison with our players, whatever they choose to do," Mark said later in the interview. "But again, when our players in the NBA do what's in their heart, when they do what they feel represents who they are and look to move this country forward when it comes to race relationships, I think that's a beautiful thing and I'll be proud of them."
The reasons for Mark's decision to stop playing the anthem are still unclear, but that hasn't stopped social media from weighing in on the issue. The decision has already been met with controversy, as some have accused Mark of behaving unpatriotically by removing the country's anthem from games.
Others have taken a more positive stance, saying that the playing of the anthem before sporting events more generally is a slightly outdated tradition. In an era where America has become an obviously fraught, complicated place for many of its citizens, calls for unwavering patriotism can seem a bit out of touch.