Did Super Bowl Snub The Troops?

Lisa at Two Babes and a Brain watched the Super Bowl yesterday and noticed something missing:

Where were the troops? Where was the honoring of our brave men and women who watched the game from some makeshift building in metal chairs lined up as if they were at a elementary school assembly out in the middle of a desert thousands of miles away from their families and soft recliners?

There was no reference made to those who fight everyday for our freedoms and liberties that allow us not only to watch such a spectacle but to even put on such a show.

Michelle Malkin, who did not see the game, passes on the word.

Squiggler, commenting on my earlier post about Super Bowl MVPs Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana skipping the pre-game honoring of MVPs, noted the same thing.

The strange thing is that I watched the telecast and did not get that impression at all. As always, the broadcast crew welcomed everybody watching from Armed Forces Television and ships at sea, giving their nod to the men and women in uniform. The cameras showed the military honor guard unfurling the colors and there was sufficient reverence that I was able to make out the Marine giving the commands. I don’t know whether there was a flyover by one of the military show teams such as the Blue Angels; there often is.

Exactly now much attention is enough?

I’m a combat veteran. My dad is a combat veteran. At least one of my grandfathers was a combat veteran. But I don’t feel entitled to being singled constantly for a mention at random events. Indeed, I think it’s rather silly to begin sporting events (especially baseball games played mostly by non-citizens) with the National Anthem. It’s entertainment, not a patriotic festival.

Update: As an aside, I agree with Lisa about the horrible quality of this year’s anthem. Aaron Neville is a terrific singer. He was able to cover a George Jones original and make it better. I never understood what the fuss about Aretha Franklin was, even a hundred pounds ago. Together, though, they turned in one of the more tortured performances of the Star Bangled Banner ever.

Popular musicians almost never do the anthem well. They always want to stylize it; to make it their own. It’s an anthem, not a pop standard. One of the few stars that I can recall doing a straight rendition of the song and yet also having it unmistakable who the singer was is Jimmy Buffett, who sang it for the MLB All-Star game many years ago.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Legal lady says:

    I am glad to hear that you don’t expect being honored at every event. Although I think that the veterans CERTAINLY deserve respect and honor, I’m not sure what that has to do with sporting events. How do we choose who to honor and when and where?

  2. anjin-san says:

    Maybe would could honor the troops by getting them better armor…

  3. tj says:

    watching the broadcast, i felt like the mention of the troops was enough. my father and both grandfathers were combat veterans. my dad was a POW in vietnam. none of the three of them ever looked for recognition, they were just happy to have served their country.

    i agree that that was one of the worst renditions of the anthem ever. i understand the want to use a motown singer and uniting the music of new orleans with that. but that version? yuck.

    i don’t mind the playing at sporting events so much though. i was an air force brat and grew up listening to the anthem everywhere. played on base. played before movies. played before sporting events. it really should remind you that the event is an american tradition … but overplaying it at every event can have the opposite effect. i don’t know what the solution is, but i don’t mind it (if it’s done well – hehe).

  4. Just Me says:

    I admit I didn’t watch the Superbowl, so can’t comment on whether troops were honored enough or not, but wanted to say that I agree with you on the Anthem-in general pop artists tend to ruin the anthem-I have heard quite a few good anthems at NASCAR events from some country artists, but I more often than not prefer the singers who aren’t recording artists.

  5. shergald says:

    Jerome Bettis of the Steelers, if I recall correctly, expressed gratitude to the troops in Iraq and Afganistan during the pregame hoopla.

  6. Chris Short says:

    I noticed the same things you did James and that was enough for me.

  7. Rick DeMent says:

    Actually, IÂ’m surprised that there wasn’t any reaction to the NFL quietly dropping the Benediction from the pre-game hype given all the faux outrage over “Happy Holidays”. At one time, it was a fixture and it went away without a whimper some time in the late 80Â’s. Personally, I’m kind of sick of hearing from non-football fans about what should or should not be included in the Super bowl.

  8. LJD says:

    What better way to support the troops than showing more Coors Light Girls, revealing Go Daddy commercials, and multiple wardrobe malfunctions.

    I love this country (tear in the eye….)

  9. You know, I don’t think the troops need to be honored at every single sporting event . . . sometimes yes, they should be honored, like right after 9/11. I don’t have issues with doing neat stuff to honor the troops, like the MNF game in San Diego, where they had a lot of troop honoring going on – that was neat, actually. But I don’t think that we need to have a squadron of troops at every event to prove that we are honoring them – the National Anthem is enough in many cases.

    We don’t do anywhere near what football does in baseball, or basketball, or any other of the professional sports.

    Finally, I didn’t hear the National Anthem, but it doesn’t surprise me that it was bad. The anthem is hard to sing unless you are either a choir, or you have a good voice, so what we need to do is make sure that whoever we pick can sing the song – it shouldn’t matter how popular they are.

  10. Jason says:

    It turns out that during all the media pregame stuff that was going on all week, a Marine officer with Armed Forces Television (or whatever they call it these days) was out there on the field getting soundbites from the players. Since AFN doesn’t broadcast real commercials (only the bizarre public service shorts) they needed some filler…and that’s how they got it this year.

  11. The problem with rock, pop, funk, country, hip-hop and maybe even lip-sycnch singers performing the national anthem at sporting events is simple. They think its all about them. The thought that it is about the national song -both music and lyrics – doesn’t seem to occur to them. It is more about them – their style, their career, their “heartfelt emotions”. Sheer agony, and Aaron Neville was indeed the worst in a very long time. PM

  12. Just Me says:

    We donÂ’t do anywhere near what football does in baseball, or basketball, or any other of the professional sports.

    Not so with NASCAR.

    Even the regular races have lots of God and Country involved, and every race begins with a prayer, and includes a flyover of some sort in addition to the anthems.