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NYT: Garden Track Meet Will Drop U.S. Anthem to Avoid Incidents” (1973)

— NYT: Garden Track Meet Will Drop U.S. Anthem to Avoid Incidents (January 16, 1973)

The details and context are very interesting, and the writer delivers a mini-history:

“Amid growing controversy over whether it should be played at sports events, the national anthem has been dropped from the Olympic Invitational track and field meet at Madison Square Garden.

The playing of “The StarSpangled Banner” is not obligatory, since “its purpose and relevance to sports events has never been established,” Jesse Abratson, the meet director, said yesterday.”


“Three members of the mile relay team, all blacks, went through stretching exercises during the traditional playing. Some fans hooted and cursed and, after a delay, Jim Foley, the meet referee, summoned the games committee to the floor and a decision was made to disqualify the team.”


Sure, the black factor crossed our minds. One doesn’t relish incidents that disrupt an event. It entered into our decision, but it wasn’t the key factor.”


Since the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, when Tommie Smith and John Carlos, sprinters, stood on the winners’ podium and raised their fists in the Black Power salute, the playing of the anthem has stirred controversy.”


“However, in Montreal, “The Star‐Spangled Banner” no longer is played before hockey games involving United States teams.

“There is a lot of sentiment against the Vietnamese war in our country,” a Montreal Canadiens’ official explained, “and we have a lot of Americans who came here to escape the draft. We don’t want any incidents.”