DALLAS - The Dallas Mavericks have taken a stance against the playing of the national anthem.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban confirmed to The Athletic that it was his decision to no longer play the national anthem prior to home games at American Airlines Center. The Mavericks haven’t played the national anthem prior to home games this season, and the team doesn’t plan on playing it for the foreseeable future.
The Mavericks, who have an 11-14 record, have played 12 games at their home arena this season. They haven’t played the national anthem in any of their 13 preseason games, as well as those 12 regular-season matchups, including Monday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, which was the first game with a small number of fans in the stands.
Cuban and the Mavericks didn’t publicize the removal of the national anthem prior to games, but The Athletic reached out to the team after realizing that it wasn’t played before Monday’s matchup. A number of team employees only noticed the removal of the anthem on their own, according to The Athletic. They also said that it was not announced or explained internally.
The Athletic reported that Cuban declined a request for further comment or explanation Monday evening. The Mavericks organization also declined comment Tuesday, per the website.
Cuban and the Mavericks received some fervent reaction to the decision to forgo playing the national anthem before games during the season.
On Wednesday, a picture began to become clearer as to why Cuban made the decision.
The decision to ax the anthem was made because "many" felt like "The Star-Spangled Banner" didn’t represent them and the franchise wants to be able to represent people from all communities and backgrounds when paying tribute to the U.S. at games, The Athletic reported, citing a source close to Cuban.
The Mavericks played their first 10 home games of the regular season without fans until Monday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. About 1,500 vaccinated workers were allowed to attend the game at the American Airlines Center.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank clarified the rules to the Associated Press.
"Under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit," Frank said.
ESPN pointed out that Goshen College, an NAIA Mennonite school in Indiana, did something similar in 2011.
Goshen College chose to play "America the Beautiful" because "it fits with our national sports tradition and honors this country, while better resonating with our Christ-centered core values (passionate learning, compassionate peacemaking, servant leadership and global citizenship) and respecting the views of our diverse constituencies. We stand by the freedom of all to express their religious faith, love for this country and hopes for change in different ways."
Goshen College didn’t play the anthem before sporting events between 1984 and 2009 but had no official policy on it.