Sports | June 18, 2021 11:11 am

Texas Governor Signs Law Requiring State’s Pro Sports Teams To Play National Anthem

The law Greg Abbott signed will pull government funding from teams that don't play the anthem

Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference.
Montinique Monroe/Getty

Earlier this week, Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed a law that will require the state’s pro sports teams to play the national anthem before games and put them at risk of losing government funding if they don’t, according to Forbes.

First introduced after Mavericks owner Mark Cuban didn’t play the anthem before 13 games early in the NBA season when there were few, if any, fans in attendance in Dallas, the so-called “Star-Spangled Banner” Protection Act was passed by the Texas House last month.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick named passing the conservative-backed bill one of his priorities. “Sell the franchise & some Texas Patriots will buy it,” Patrick tweeted at Cuban earlier in the year. “We ARE the land of free & the home of the brave.”

Prior to Senate Bill 4 heading to Abbott’s desk, attempts by Democrats to require teams to play both the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (known as the Black national anthem) or to choose between the songs were shut down along partisan lines.

“I don’t even understand why we would feel the need to force someone into singing any song,” said Rep. Jasmine Felicia Crockett, D-Dallas. “But if we are going to force people to sing a song, we should at least be mindful of the people playing on these teams, the people that are actually in the stands supporting these teams.”

Democrats’ arguments that mandating the playing of the anthem was unconstitutional and a violation of free speech also did not pass muster because, as Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, pointed out, teams can choose not to play the anthem if they are willing to forgo state funding.

“It’s very simple. If they do not want to play the national anthem, they don’t take the tax dollars,” Burrows said. “If we’re going to go ahead and subsidize with hard-earned American dollars the sporting facilities and the teams in the different ways that I think is articulated in this bill, then this would apply.”

Similar to Texas, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a law earlier this week requiring sports teams to play the anthem, although that bill does not name specific repercussions for failing to do so.

“I believe the national anthem is even more meaningful when it is played freely, not as a result of legal compulsion,” Rep. John Turner (D) wrote in a statement last month. “SB4 would change our anthem from something that is played and sung voluntarily at professional sporting events to something that is done because it is mandated by law.”