Thursday, November 15, 2012
Commish at Center of Anthem Flap: I Made Mistake
skipping "The Star-Spangled Banner" to save ice time, admitted Wednesday that he was wrong.
Ed Sam, the commissioner of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League who set off a national firestorm when he suggested |
"Whenever you make a decision and you have found out that you made a mistake, you have to face up to the fact that you made a mistake," Sam said during a PIHL Board of Governors meeting, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We need to fix the mistake and move forward."
Fixing it apparently included posting a statement on the PIHL website that read: "The PIHL has not banned the National Anthem. A badly worded statement went out to teams about the subject and it has since been clarified and corrected. We apologize for the misunderstanding, but the National Anthem has not and will not be banned.” (The statement could not be found on the PIHL website Thursday morning.)
Additionally, the league is distributing a one-minute-and-15-second instrumental version of the National Anthem to rinks that host PIHL games and requiring all operators to play it before every game.
Sam's suggestion to ice the song came in the form of an email sent to the PIHL's 183 high school team members in central and western Pennsylvania and reportedly was prompted by a few recent anthem performances that ran longer than officials would have liked. The league also added two minutes to periods this season, making them each 17 minutes and causing games to be stopped before the clock ran out, because ice time had expired. “The National Anthem should not be played only because of time constrains [sic],” Sam told Pittsburgh's CBS affiliate, KDKA, earlier this week. “It’s not that we’re not patriotic, that’s the furthest from the truth. Ice is very, very hard to get and it’s not cheap. We’re talking $300 an hour sometimes or even higher than that.”
KDKA reports that PIHL's headquarters received 4,000 emails and phone calls about the decision. AB readers also spoke out, sometimes vehemently. "How dare you?" one asked Sam, who also was called "un-American" and a "Communist." But a high school soccer referee in Washington tried to be constructive with his suggestion of allowing the host school to choose between the playing of the National Anthem and the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. "I can tell you from my experience you can save almost 10 minutes if you just do the Pledge of Allegiance vs. the National Anthem," he wrote.