UConn Loves America!

And they want you to love it too!

Jessica Hill/Associated Press (NYT)

The University of Connecticut has started saying the Pledge of Allegiance before the national anthem at its men’s basketball games. I think the Pledge is kind of creepy for a whole slate of reasons, including the fact that I can still be patriotic while choosing not to recite my unflinching loyalty in a glassy-eyed monotone. Some members of the UConn community agree:

Those who supported saying the pledge said it was unifying and reinforced American values. Those opposed said they objected to a public university urging people to say “under God” or felt it was gratuitous to ask people to pledge fealty to the United States at a sporting event. Some expressed concern that UConn athletes who are not American citizens could be put in an awkward position.

Oh,  yeah, the “under God” part, too.

Fortunately, they’re making it extremely clear that nobody is required to participate, and UConn’s two German players have stated that they’re comfortable with the recitation. Which is all well and good from a legal standpoint: the school is free to do it, and I’m free to opt out. But if you’ve ever remained seated through God Bless America at a sporting event, you know that the other attendees might have their own ideas about acceptable behavior.

Professor Douglas Laycock acknowledges in the article that, despite the god talk at a public university, the recitation would probably be judged perfectly legal. But a sporting event is supposed to be fun and pleasant, an excuse to engage in a little harmless tribalism. If faith and politics are too divisive for the dinner table, why foist them on people at a game?

About Megan Wells

Megan Wells is an IT tech and sports blogger in Chicago.

  • MuzakBox

    I’m a HUGE UConn Men’s Basketball fan. I’m a frequent attendant at home games played in Hartford and I’m not sure I like this change to the format. I haven’t attended a game yet this year (it’s early and it’s not super fun to just watch them wipe the floor with Harvard or other lower tier teams) but I will not be standing for the pledge. I stopped standing for it 20 years ago in High School. I wonder what the reaction of the other fans will be like.

    BTW the pic above is of the Women’s coach, Geno Auriemma, not Jim Calhoun the Men’s coach. And it does seem that there is an objector right there on his coaching staff although that looks more like singing of the anthem than the pledge.

  • NorDog

    The horror.  The horror.

    • Trace

      :)

      • Rich Wilson

        It’s not the worst thing ever by a long shot, but when you’re surrounded by little reminders that you’re really not an accepted part of society, it gets tiresome.  And we get sensitive to it.

        And hey, at least we’re not whining about what happy greeting the store clerk uses.  Or billboards that commit the great offense of saying “Christians Exist”

        Or smugly dismissing someone else’s complaint, as opposed to, I don’t know, trying to understand why people are pissed off about it.

        • NorDog

          I guess on the upside, if you’re ever ordered to sensitivity training you can challenge the test.

          Though I find it interesting that one complains about not being an accepted member of society in a post complaining about a pledge to that society.

          • Rich Wilson

            A pledge that explicitly excludes… oh never mind.

        • NorDog

          Oh, I’ve read enough around here to know about why people are pissed off, but ultimately I suspect it’s because they aren’t in charge of it all.

          • Rich Wilson

            Funny.  Ultimately I suspect you’re a Christian because it’s the one religion in which you are judged not on your works but your faith.

            /sarcasm (I really don’t know why you are a Christian, nor would I really presume to tell you why you are a Christian)

  • Simon

    The national anthem is also unnecessary nationalism at sporting events IMO.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1607022278 Anonymous

      Yes and it being sung is always begging for someone to do a shitty job of it. As if the teams running out before the game isn’t enough of a signpost saying “HEY WE’RE STARTING THIS SHIT STOP TALKING AND WATCH US”

    • Anonymous

      It’s appropriate when national teams competes against each other, but singing at every single event is indeed silly. Blind ritualism like that also robs it of its meaning and effectiveness

      • Rich Wilson

        you mean national teams like the “World Champion” Greenbay Packers, or the “World Champion” Dallas Mavericks? :-)

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    I have two children (ages 6 and 9) and they now that they have the option of not saying “under God” if they choose to do so. As an aside, I would support getting rid of the Pledge as it is now and have people pledge to support the Constitution as the President does, or perhaps to a declaration of human rights.

  • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

    “UConn’s two German players have stated that they’re comfortable with the recitation.”

    Well what else were they going to say, “please call us Communists and shun us”? (Even if the team itself was cool with them objecting, you know somebody wouldn’t be.)

  • dorcheat

    Whenever I attend my children’s award presentations at their respective local public schools, I always arrive several minutes “fashionably late” to miss the student led pledge of allegiance.

    Why is reciting the pledge necessary at the collegiate level?  I guess to avoid it, one can use the restroom or browse and/or buy something at the concessions.  Please keep your ceremonial deisms.

  • Secular Planet

    I thought the guy in the photo was Al Franken and was looking for a connection to him in the article. Guess not!

  • mcfa

    I dislike singing the anthem and the pledge of allegiance less for the religious implications, but because I consider them forms of brainwashing.  Repeated exposure to an idea, here blind patriotism, strengthens positive associations with said idea. Anything that promotes unthinking acceptance and promotion (okay, here is where I see religious parallels), is distasteful in my opinion. Let alone that singing the anthem is a product of war time propaganda/public opinion to boost baseball ticket sales rather than regard for God and country.

  • Wendel

    One of my first big activist moments was probably in 2nd grade, I was neighbors/friends with some jehovah’s witnesses and their refusal to say the pledge caused something of a stir. I knew it wasn’t right and stopped saying it too. I don’t remember when the school stopped requiring it but I know it wasn’t present in 4th grade.

    So some religious folks who take prosletizing way too seriously helped me become the happy atheist I am today. I hope someone on the team objects to this. There is already pressure on everyone involved to join the conformity factory, with possible job prospects, etc, they’ve somehow finangled some foreigners pledging allegiance to a foreign country.

    A country that values liberty and freedom and all the other things that make the united states great doesn’t do this.

    • Trace

      “A country that values liberty and freedom and all the other things that make the united states great doesn’t do this.”

      I agree.  However, the US are well know for its civic religiosity. As a new immigrant, I normally don’t say too much regarding this since most Americans I have met do not take it too well to be questioned when it comes to their founding myths and civic religion.

    • Anonymous

      I remember when I wanted to stop saying the pledge in kindergarten but my teacher said only Jehovah’s Witnesses could sit out. =(

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Sweet/1280927267 James Sweet

    Yet another objection the pledge:  I have no problem pledging my allegiance to the United States, but allegiance to the flag itself?  Um, not really…

  • Forrest Cahoon

    It appears that the elderly gentleman in the picture is pledging his allegiance to the womanly rear end in front of him.

    • http://twitter.com/hobova hobova

      Hey, that’s our great Coach!

      • Anonymous

        Who I believe was against the idea, saying they should also can the anthem singers and have the fans sing the anthem.

    • Anonymous

      I was trying to figure out if he was checking out her rear, or her shoes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/keithacollyer Keith Collyer

    Are they seriously wearing those heels onto a court?!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve lived in many different countries and the US is the only one with a ritual of this sort. I’ve always found it surreal that millions of schoolchildren start every day by chanting robotically in unison about how free they are.

  • Nazani14

    I don’t think most people understand what “allegiance” means.   It means more than “Gosh, our country is so awfully swell;”  it means you promise not to go fight for another country, sell state secrets, or be otherwise treasonous.  This is why it’s ridiculous to ask children to pledge allegiance. 

    The pledge is a lot like the loyalty oaths that got people all riled up in the ’50s.  Also, as an admonition not to screw the US, it obviously doesn’t work, as some of the most pledge-y politicians have also been the worst.

    I suggest that the school song be played before sports contests.  If you really want to thank the Federal government for their financial help, find a more meaningful way.

    • Rich Wilson

      For the purposes of immigration, the US assumes that pledges made by 16 and unders don’t count.

      (Russians who were members of Komsomol aren’t considered Commies)

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    Uh, a couple things here. First, the Pledge is being recited not only at UConn’s men’s basketball games. It happened at some of their football games, AFAIK, and it’s also done at the women’s basketball games.

    Second, while the story mentions men’s basketball, the picture is of part of the women’s basketball coaching staff. From left: Asst. coaches Shea Ralph & Marisa Moseley, and head coach Geno Auriemma (aka “god”).

    Full disclosure: I have season tickets to the women’s basketball games. I also do not say the Pledge, since I consider it a relic of the Middle Ages; I’m not a serf or a vassal, and owe “allegiance” to no one and nothing, so I have no intention of pledging same.

  • Anonymous

    Good time to head to the john to take a leak………………

  • Tjsquishy

    Why has no one sugested that we take the “Under God” part back out of the pledge do to the fact that it was written in to the pledge almost 60 years after the pledge was created.

    The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931),

    The phrase “under God” was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance June 14, 1954, by a Joint Resolution of Congress amending §7 of the Flag Code enacted in 1942.[12]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pledge_of_Allegiance

  • Anonymous

    I’m just excited to see other Uconn people on this blog! Anyone know what’s going on with SSA there? I sent an email to join, but didn’t ever get a reply.

  • Politisis

    “But if you’ve ever remained seated through God Bless America at a sporting event, you know that the other attendees might have their own ideas about acceptable behavior.”

    My daughter and I stayed seated through the Pledge and “God Bless America” at a rodeo. If looks could kill, we’d have been little piles of smoldering ash. LOL

  • TychaBrahe

    I love the pledge.  I recite it loudly when given the opportunity to do so.  

    The sudden drop in volume when everyone else says “under God” and I don’t….priceless!


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