Thanks to J. D. Reed's amusing article concerning our national anthem's place in sports (Gallantly Screaming, Jan. 3), I found out that I have an unpatriotic dog. Inspired while reading the story, I broke into a hearty rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. I was belting out the last few bars when my one-year-old miniature schnauzer broke into a fiendish wail. Maybe it was just her way of saying "Play Ball!"
Bravo! It is high time someone did an article on this sporting catastrophe. Every day of every sports season, The Banner is subjected to lyrical blasphemy and outright hatred. I think this musical nightmare should be excluded from our arenas and ball parks forever.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Star-Spangled Banner has lost most of its meaning for me. Because of constant repetition it has grown into something that must be endured, not enjoyed. We stand at attention out of habit, not to display our patriotism. This is not to say that The Banner always goes unnoticed. The shortened version played at the Montreal Olympics after an American triumph is my fondest memory of The Banner. The ritual playing of our national anthem before sports events takes away from special moments like this.
Showing disrespect for the national anthem at a sports event is a shame and a disgrace to our great country. I get a shiver every time I hear the song. I'm convinced that the anthem carries with it a certain amount of magic. Anyone who can't stand still for 90 seconds to show respect for our nation doesn't deserve to call himself an American.
STEVE J. GUNN
Twin Lake, Mich.
The Star-Spangled Banner should remain our national anthem and be played before every sports event.
Mount Pleasant, Pa.
I was surprised to learn that The Star-Spangled Banner lasts 90 seconds. Most of my Banner experience has come at Notre Dame basketball games. The pep band there has a 63-second version that Indiana Pacer Coach Bobby Leonard would just love.
W. R. DODD
My brother and I play a paddle ball game in our backyard. After each hard-fought match, we play a tape recording of the anthem. The winner of the match stands up on a step and raises his paddle in ecstasy. The loser stands at lower level, but still shows respect. I have never won this game, and I am anxious for the summer to come so that I can win and stand tall and proud for my country. I try to picture it: the sun shining, me standing on the step, the anthem blaring away and the neighbors staring in disbelief.
Regarding your reference to the good fortunes of the Philadelphia Flyers when Kate Smith sings God Bless America before the game, I'd like to add that Kate's recording has been used once so far this season, after the team returned from a poor road trip with a 7-6-3 record. The Flyers beat the Vancouver Canucks 6-4 that night, starting an unbeaten streak that has been interrupted by only two losses in 26 games. Kate's magic lives!
Louis C. SCHEINFELD
Apparently J. D. Reed has never heard Kathy Krems, the young "Sweetheart of Candlestick Park," but he will someday. Kathy, an 18-year-old coloratura soprano and the daughter of Lou Krems (business manager of the National League), has been thrilling San Francisco Giant fans for the past two seasons with her fantastic rendition of the national anthem. Also, she would have sung it at the 1976 World Series if the Phillies had been in it. Kathy is enrolled at the University of Southern California, where she is a freshman majoring in voice, and hopes to be an outstanding opera singer someday.
Walnut Creek, Calif.
Consider the experience of North Texas State Offensive Tackle Gary Smith. A voice student, Smith delivered a stirring, resonant rendition of the anthem before a near-capacity homecoming crowd in 1975, his sophomore season, and the fans were moved to a prolonged ovation. Moments later, on the first series of plays, Smith was knocked senseless and had to miss the rest of the game. He has not sung the anthem or missed a game since.
The Dallas Morning News