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GOP senator authors bill requiring the national anthem before games

National Anthem

MADISON (WKOW) -- A new bill sponsored by a Republican senator would require sports venues that received taxpayer money to play the Star-Spangled Banner before all events.

Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) is the lead author of the bill, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) and Rep. Scott Krug (R-Town of Rome).

The bill would affect pro sports venues including Lambeau Field in Green Bay and Milwaukee's Fiserv Forum and American Family Field, all of which were either built and/or renovated with public dollars.

"This tradition traces its roots back more than a century – even pre-dating the song’s adoption as the national anthem," Testin wrote in a release Thursday. "It’s a practice that unites us, and I believe it’s worth preserving."

While no Wisconsin teams have indicated any interest in discontinuing the tradition of playing the anthem before games, Testin cited the Dallas Mavericks' decision earlier this year to remove the song from its pre-game itinerary.

The NBA initially said each team was free to do as it wished with regard to the anthem but quickly flipped and required the song to be played amid backlash earlier this month.

The Milwaukee Bucks chose not to play a playoff game last summer following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. That protest reverberated around the sports world as teams across the NBA and other pro sports, including the Milwaukee Brewers, followed suit by refusing to play at least one game during that week in last August.

The bill itself says no sporting event may be held in a taxpayer-funded arena or stadium unless the national anthem precedes the event. However, the bill makes no mention of any kind of penalty for teams who do not follow the law.

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A. J. Bayatpour

Reporter, WKOW 27

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