National anthem of the United States (Star-Spangled Banner) and its relevant in soccer

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Just like in most parts of the world, it is a culture for every soccer game in the United States to start after the teams have recited the national anthem. Indeed, the USA national anthem which is officially known as the Star-Spangled Banner has become a part of the soccer sector in the country.

Aside from soccer, every other type of sport in the United States has embraced the practice of using the American anthem as a ritual to commence competitive games.

Even though it is a thing of honor or a form of homage to the United States for a soccer game and other sports games to start with the American national anthem lyrics, many think that the practice is becoming unnecessary especially when athletes began to take a kneel when the anthem is played.

Before we look at why athletes started to take a kneel when the USA anthem is played, let use trace the history of the American national anthem lyrics and how the lyrics found its way into soccer.

The history of the USA National Anthem

On September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key composed the full lyrics of the American Anthem. However, it was until 1931 that the United of America adopted the lyrics as the national anthem of the US.

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Scott Key was inspired to write the United States national anthem lyrics after seeing the country’s flag flying high above the battlefield following a U.S. victory during the War of 1812.

It was first written as a poem titled the Defence of Fort M’Henry by Key and turned to a song by John Stafford Smith in 1773. The country’s then adopted it on March 3, 1931, as the US anthem.

Before it became the lyrics of the national anthem, it was made to be a part of a popular song in the United States titled: “To Anacreon in Heaven”.

Currently, the original lyrics of the anthem have been shortened. Nowadays, people commonly sing the first of the poem’s four original stanzas as the anthem of the United States.

What Are The Lyrics To The National Anthem?

Below is the Star-Spangled Banner lyrics in full (United States national anthem lyrics in full):

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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Who Wrote The American National Anthem Lyrics?

As explained above, the person who wrote the lyrics of the American national anthem is Francis Scott Key. The poet wrote the full lyrics of the American anthem in 1814 which was adopted on March 3, 1931.

If you are wondering how the United States anthem found its way into soccer games, this is how?

It has been a culture of the United States of America to play the national anthem before a soccer game since the 1890s.

Initially, the anthem was played during the final stages of a sports event until in the 20th century when sound systems are fitted at stadiums.

The invention of sound systems has cut off the cost of hiring a live band to sing or play the US anthem. Hence, the anthem is now played more often.

In American soccer, the anthem is played before Major League Soccer games, and National Women Soccer League unlike in the English Premier League where no anthem is played before a league game.

Just like it is in most national teams across the world, the United States anthem is played before any game involving the US men’s national soccer team and women’s national team.

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How athletes in the United States start protesting against the American anthem

Megan Rapinoe taking a knee while the national anthem is being sung.
Megan Rapinoe taking a knee while the national anthem is being sung.

In August 2016, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick unconsciously started a movement in the American sports world which has refused to go away. He decided to take a kneel when the US anthem was played before an NFL game to protest racism and police brutality.

His action influence other athletes in the United States and got into soccer in 2016 through Megan Rapinoe who was the first USWNT player to take a knee when the anthem was played before an international soccer game to protest against discrimination.

When a police officer killed George Floyd in 2020, the practice of kneeling whenever the US anthem is played before a sports game spread across the world like a wildfire.

The practice of taking a kneel whenever the national anthem of the United States of America is played has grown beyond the shores of America to Europe. The practice is a form of protest against police brutality and all forms of discrimination.

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