A bill that passed overwhelmingly in the Texas Senate on Thursday would require professional sports teams with government contracts to play the national anthem before games.
The bill passed 28-2 in the Senate with bipartisan support and now heads to the Texas House of Representatives.
Mavericks decision led to support of anthem requirement
The bill gained traction after the Dallas Mavericks stopped playing the national anthem before home games this season. The practice went largely unnoticed until team owner Mark Cuban acknowledged the decision on Feb. 9 after 13 games had passed without the anthem being played.
Mark Cuban's stance on anthem
A day later, the NBA announced that all teams would be expected to play the anthem before games, and Cuban complied alongside a statement calling for voices who protest during the anthem to be heard:
“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them. We feel that their voices need to be respected and heard, because they have not been.
"Going forward, our hope is that people will take the same passion they have for this issue and apply the same amount of energy to listen to those who feel differently from them."
Athletes across sports, including the NBA, have protested during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality and racial inequity. Those protests have been commonly misrepresented by critics as attacks on the military.
What exactly does the bill propose?
Per the bill, government entities would be banned from entering contracts with pro sports teams without written agreement from the teams to play the national anthem before all preseason, regular season and postseason game.
In the case of the Mavericks, this would apply to their agreement to play at the American Airlines Center, which is owned by the city of Dallas. Likewise, it would apply to the Dallas Cowboys. The city of Arlington — not Jerry Jones — owns AT&T Stadium. Though it's not likely that the anthem stops playing at Cowboys games any time soon.
Texas leader touts regulation as virtue of freedom
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick presides over the state Senate and has been a vocal advocate of the bill. He touted the proposed regulation Thursday as in line with with American values of freedom.
"The passage of SB 4 will ensure Texans can count on hearing the Star Spangled Banner at major sports events throughout the state that are played in venues that taxpayers support," Patrick said in a statement. "We must always remember that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave."
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