ESPN Host: National Anthem Is 'Injecting Politics' Into Sports

ESPN’s Max Kellerman took a while to grow on me, but after watching him host Around the Horn, he did. I was glad to see him survive the recent purges at ESPN.


At least until I found out the insane thing he believes regarding Colin Kaepernick and the national anthem fiasco that infected the NFL last season:

The “First Take” co-host made the comment on Thursday’s show. During a discussion about Seahawks’ star Michael Bennett comparing Colin Kaepernick to Muhammad Ali, Kellerman said Kaepernick “did not go looking for a protest. It came to him.”

“He was asked to stand for the national anthem,” Kellerman said. “You do not have to stand for the national anthem. And even if it it was a rule that you did, is that Colin Kaepernick injecting politics in the NFL? No. That’s the NFL injecting politics by playing the national anthem and putting pressure on you to stand for it in the first place.”

Max, just shut the hell up.

Here’s the U.S. Flag Code, Chapter 10 outlining exactly how you stand for the national anthem:

§171. Conduct during playing

During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.


Yes, you actually are supposed to stand for the national anthem. This is actually federal law — Chapter 10 of Title 36 of the U.S. Code.

Kellerman’s claim that the NFL is injecting politics into football by playing the national anthem, however, illustrates ESPN’s deeper problem. The network has embraced left-wing talking points as a matter of course, refusing to see that sports has traditionally been “neutral ground” in this country. Yes, athletes have been political, but sports was one thing that could bring us together. You could watch with your buddies of different political stripes and argue about something completely different for a while.

I first stopped watching ESPN’s First Take, which stars Kellerman and Steven A. Smith, during my beloved NFL season, mostly because they couldn’t go a single episode without talking about Kaepernick’s stand. Or kneel, in this case. There wasn’t anything new to cover, but they kept going on about it.

Kellerman’s latest comments, however, have taken it way too far. If the national anthem strikes you as political, then you don’t believe the United States should exist. Kellerman is too out of his depth to realize his hypocrisy.


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