here a good debate..since we have a bunch of debater on the site,do u believe it her right to do this???
hopefully i don't open a can of worms???
Lost in the Toni Smith Story Is Her Responsibility as a Member of a Team
By Frank Deford
You have probably heard by now of Toni Smith, a senior on the women's basketball team at Manhattanville College. Smith has made it a habit to turn 90 degrees away from the flag while the national anthem is played before her games. She is protesting, she says, "the inequalities embedded in the American system," which embraces a rather large territory.
First of all, this is surely a coach's nightmare. To order a player to stand facing the flag is to immediately suffer charges of denying a student their right to freedom of expression. On the other hand, to allow a member of a team to go their own way violates the first tenet of teamwork, of being a part of the whole you have volunteered to join.
What would you do if you were Shawn Lincoln, the first-year Manhattanville coach? There's no easy answer, is there?
Well, I would tell Toni this: You have made your point, and I appreciate how fervently you believe in what you're doing, but you are one of us on this team, and once you put on our Manhattanville uniform you cede certain individual prerogatives. Once the game is over, you may protest in any fashion you wish, but you made the personal decision to try out for this team, so now you are one of us and you must respect us, as a group, even if you don't respect the flag that the rest of us do.
In a real way, it seems to me, the player is using the team, taking advantage of her teammates. The Star-Spangled Banner is played for the game, for the participating teams, and, as a member of the squad, she should honor that fact and not co-opt the opportunity for her own ends. We make all sorts of concessions to our freedom when we participate on a team, and although freedom of political expression may be higher on the scale than, say, obeying training rules, the principle is the same. Indeed, our courts have held that even high school athletes must accept being singled out for drug-testing because they choose to play sports, whereas drug testing is not constitutional for the entire student body.
Of course, it's also true that some coaches are bullies and despots, who misuse their authority, but being on a team is the ideal of sacrifice, and when an individual breaches that unity, that goal, then something noble is lost.
Having said that, it is also probably true that games -- and teams -- may have been co-opted for showy patriotic purposes. Whoever would have thought that the last refuge of patriotism would be the beginning of a ballgame? Myself, I rather like it that we find reasons to play our national anthem in common places of joy, such as stadiums and arenas. If The Star-Spangled Banner is only rendered on military or state occasions, or at funerals and memorials, we would come to not think so warmly of our anthem, wouldn't we? But too often lately, the anthem seems to have provided an excuse for other expressions, invariably more martial in tone than democratic. Specifically, the business of having a squadron of fighter jets swoop over the stadium as soon as "the land of the free and the home of the brave" has lifted into the air. In peacetime or wartime, I really don't think we need that sort of military display as a benediction to our games.
It's enough, I think, to face the flag and hear the anthem, together.