Wisconsin Lawmakers Join Texas in Pitch to Require National Anthem at Public Sporting Events

A Republican lawmaker in Wisconsin is calling upon the state legislature to require that the national anthem be played before all of the state's publicly funded sporting events.

The proposed legislation follows a call for similar requirements in Texas, which Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick said earlier this month will be among his top legislative priorities this year.

The proposed legislation in Wisconsin was introduced this week by state Sen. Patrick Testin and also has support from state assembly members Tony Kurtz and Scott Krug, both fellow Republicans.

"Today,@RepTonyKurtz, @RepKrug, and I proposed the Star Spangled Banner Act, which would require the playing of the national anthem at sporting events held in venues that have received public funding," Testin tweeted on Thursday.

Today, @RepTonyKurtz, @RepKrug, and I proposed the Star Spangled Banner Act, which would require the playing of the national anthem at sporting events held in venues that have received public funding. pic.twitter.com/ZGDyt7OyMT

— Sen. Patrick Testin (@SenatorTestin) February 25, 2021

Lawmakers in Wisconsin and Texas first indicated an interest in considering national anthem requirements at sporting events after entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban experimented with skipping the anthem before some of the team's games. Once the experiment gained the public's attention, Cuban decided to reinstate the national anthem after the NBA announced teams were required to do so "in keeping with longstanding league policy."

Testin's proposed legislation is still in its early stages and would ultimately need to be signed by Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat.

Newsweek reached out to Evers' office for comment and will update this article with any response.

Wisconsin national anthem legislation
A Republican lawmaker in Wisconsin proposed new legislation on Thursday that would require the national anthem to be played before all sporting events that receive public funding. In the photo above, the Pittsburgh Pirates stand for the singing of the national anthem before the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on August 30, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dylan Buell/Getty

For more reporting on this story from the Associated Press, see below.

The bill says that, "No sporting event may be held in a venue the construction of which was financed at least in part from moneys contributed by a state agency or local governmental unit unless the event is preceded by the playing or singing of the national anthem."

"Sporting event" is not defined, raising the question of whether the anthem would have to be sung every time someone gets together for a pickup game of football at the city park or plays a softball game on a municipal field.

Testin did not immediately reply to a message seeking clarification.

No matter the scope, there is no penalty for violating the requirement, so even if the bar league softball team skipped the national anthem, there would be no repercussion under the law.

Testin said veterans groups the Wisconsin American Legion and VFW Department of Wisconsin support the measure, which would have to pass the GOP-controlled Legislature and be signed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers before becoming law.

Evers' spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the measure.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" wasn't played regularly at professional sporting events prior to its designation as the national anthem in 1931, although it grew in popularity after a dramatic airing at the 1918 World Series during World War I. By the end of World War II, the NFL ordered it played at every game, and the tradition quickly spread to other sports as part of a wave of post-war patriotism.

Although playing the national anthem before games is a staple of American sports at the professional and collegiate levels, it is far less common in other countries. Athlete protests of social and racial injustice during the "The Star-Spangled Banner" became a flashpoint between then-President Donald Trump and various leagues during his administration.