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How the anthem and military became indelibly bound with sports in America

How did the United States military and a song about the War of 1812 become so inextricably associated with American sports? It didn’t happen overnight

The playing of the Star-Spangled Banner is so familiar and perfunctory a trapping of sporting events in the United States that few Americans even bothered to consider what it means and why it’s tradition until last year when Colin Kaepernick chose to take a knee in protest of police violence and racial inequality. The stakes were redoubled in September when Donald Trump called on NFL owners to fire any players who kneel, recasting Kaepernick’s movement as not a protest of social injustice but an affront on patriotism and an insult to the military soldiers who paid the ultimate price for freedom.

But how did a song about the War of 1812 that wasn’t even adopted as the national anthem until the 1930s become so indelibly bound to the American sporting experience? It didn’t happen overnight.

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