Is the national anthem being penalized in high school ice hockey games?
It's a question being asked after the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League suggested the anthem be cut from pre-game ceremonies.
The league said the suggestion had nothing to do with patriotism and everything to do with economics.
The suggestion was made because parents and players pay upwards of $300 an hour to rent a rink, and the delay potentially caused by playing the national anthem could cut game time and impact the outcome, said Ed Sam, commissioner of the PIHL, which has since rescinded the suggestion after coming under fire. "Going forward, we are putting forward all of the mechanics of playing the national anthem at all of our games."
"We used to play the national anthem before every varsity game, and for some odd reason, I don't know the reason, we stopped doing it," said Brian Ruff, president of the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League, which plays at the Lehigh Valley Ice Arena in Whitehall Twp., Lehigh Co.
The national anthem, Ruff said, hasn't been played before high school games in three years. Officials said it's because the arena developed problems with its sound system, and by the time it was fixed, no one asked for the national anthem to be played at high school games.
Arena officials said it is played before college games.
While re-instating the patriotic tribute would be good, Ruff said:
"There is just so many things that everybody is volunteering to do, it has basically become one more thing for someone to worry about, whether it's right or wrong. I even feel bad saying that."
Ruff said he is meeting with league members on Wednesday, and he will talk about reinstating the national anthem at that time.