WI Assembly Considering Bill Requiring Anthem At Publicly-Funded Sports Venues

By Adam Roberts – 5/11/2021

If you were to put together a top five list for the most divisive topics people have debated about over the past five years, I’d wager that the national anthem conversation would be on most lists. Colin Kaepernick’s stance, or lack thereof, on that subject helped to reignite often heated conversations on the issue which have come up at different times over the course of U.S. history. Over that time period, several legislative actions have been attempted at various levels of local and state government to manage how and when the national anthem is performed at events both sporting and non-sporting related.

Today in Madison, legislation is being considered by Wisconsin legislators that would require the national anthem to be played before sporting events in any venue that has received public funding. This would include all of the state’s professional sports venues: Lambeau Field, Fiserv Forum, and American Family Field. The bill was authored in part by Wonewoc Representative Tony Kurtz, who said this week it is not intended to punish athletes who have used the anthem as a protest platform. Rather, he says, it is in part a response to the action Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks took earlier this year to stop playing the anthem before games until the NBA stepped in and required its teams to play it. Kurtz also said he was upset at the Packers when they made the decision in September to stay in the locker room before their opener against Minnesota.

While the bill has a path to Governor Evers’ desk, it’s unclear whether or not he would sign the bill. It also doesn’t include any enforcement language, leaving it unclear if venues that refuse to follow the bill would face any consequence.