ill you all rise, please, and join us in the singing our our national anthem?”
It doesn’t sound all that hard, does it? But, as everyone knows by now, it can be made extremely difficult and we have done that. It seems to me that at the most fundamental level, this is just the tragedy of the commons. 
“The commons” as Garrett Hardin uses it is a common grazing area. All the farmers are free to graze their cattle on the common pasture provided they don’t have too many cattle. Only so many and no more. But each farmer has an incentive to add just a few “extra” cattle—how much harm can a few extra cattle possibly do?—to the common area and when too many farmers do that, the commons crashes and there is no food for anyone’s cattle and disaster ensues.
The national anthem is a commons. All public ceremonies in which we participate as Americans—only that one status–are a commons. The inauguration of a new president is such an event. The awarding of medals to the winners of a track and field contest is such an event. The crowning of a new Miss America is such an event—or was once. 
About all of these, I would say that everyone who participates in the event, as a contestant or as a spectator, owes a duty to the event. That’s a shorthand way of saying that each one owes to his or her neighbors the courtesy of treating the event as if we all related to it in the same way, not as partisans, who will be guaranteed to feel differently about the outcome.
There is only one way to treat the event as a commons and that is to lay aside, for the moment, the things that divide us and to focus, for the moment, on this one thing that unites us. There are literally thousands of ways to subvert the commonness of the event and every Sunday from now on into the foreseeable future, we will be treated to new ones?
Have you seen the NFL team that stands during the performance of the Star Spangled Banner, linking arms and facing away from the field of play? I haven’t either, but surely it is only a matter of time. Have you seen the team and all the coaches and all the owners standing on the sidelines linking arms and singing the anthem together? Or kneeling together, assuming that someone will be willing to help to owner to his feet afterwards? I haven’t either, but I expect to and if I could see a replay of every NFL opening ceremony next week, I would.
At the Seahawks v. Titans game last week, both teams remained in their locker rooms until after the “unifying ceremony” was over. At the Steelers v. Bears game, one team was on the field and one was not. Here is a survey of what was done at different sites.
A Sunday afternoon football game is a special thing. It is a commons. You can’t just add extra cows to it, confident that no one else will think of it. The real question is not my cows or your cows; it is some extra cows or no extra cows.
Katharine Q Seelye and Bill Pennington reported in The New York Times that:
At football stadiums across the country, fans seemed united in their irritation that their sacrosanct leisure hours had been hijacked by a raging, uncivil war that in their view should be confined on Sundays to the talk shows — so they could tune it out.
I think the choice of the word “sacrosanct” is absolutely justified here. And the intensity it conveys is justified by the lengths people will go to protect it.  These fans want football and nothing else. Well…football and tailgating and nothing else.
The singing of the Star Spangled Banner—which was once something the fans were asked “to join in”—even though the word “free” with that awful tight ee- vowel comes at a high G that hardly anyone can reach. That adds a common ritual to the “sacrosanct leisure hours.” As long as you don’t pay much attention to what it says, you can just wait until the performance is over and the game starts.  And as long as it is common, no one objects.
Refusing to treat it as a meaningless ritual—more precisely, a ritual that is powerful because the particulars are not attended to—opens it up to varying interpretations. What does standing quietly in a reverential posture “mean?” It used to mean that you were extending a courtesy to your neighbors and affirming a bond of solidarity with them. But if it now means “Black Lives Really Don’t Matter,” then you would expect some difference of opinion.
To the division between those who want pure leisure—that’s the commons—we add people who want almost pure leisure—broken only by the introduction of the issues that are important to me. Just my cows, that is, not yours. And once there is a divisive issue, your response to it will be divided into affirming it or opposing it. Even doing nothing will be colluding with it.
Now the commons is gone. Players are staying in the locker room until after our “ritual of solidarity is over.” Players are inventing combinations of ways to affirm the unity of the team amidst the different views of the players. Look at this picture of the Detroit Lions. Some are kneeling, some are standing. All are holding onto each other. I wish the churches could figure out a way to do that.
President Trump—His Tweetness—has not invented this issue, but he has made it markedly worse and he will certainly lose. Every Sunday, ingenious new ways to give the finger to the President will be invented and displayed on prime time television. Standing, kneeling, squatting, staying in the locker room, joining hands with the other team, wearing blindfolds, holding signs. There is no end to the ways this rebuke can be administered.
And to all the owners and coaches and players who oppose the President’s issue, add all the fans who want no issues at all to distract them from their non-NFL lives. So Trump will lose this one.
But then, how will the commons be restored? Does it ever get restored? Unlike the pasture in Hardin’s parable, the unity of a ritual doesn’t just grow back like the grass does. When you stop overgrazing the grass, it grows back. When you stop chipping away at a common ritual, it just stands there, chipped. Rituals don’t heal.
I think they can be healed. Theoretically. I don’t know how. And since we don’t really know how they can be restored, maybe we shouldn’t damage them so carelessly.
 “The Tragedy of the Commons” began to be a much-used metaphor when Garrett Hardin published it in the journal Science in 1968. He says he got it from a pamphlet written by A. F. Lloyd in 1853, so the image has been around for awhile.
 It took a little time and thought to give you three grades of illustration: undeniable, plausible, and controversial. I hope you appreciate the care with which this buffet was prepared for you.
 In the movie, Concussion, Dr. Cyril Wecht tells Dr. Bennet Omalu, “You’re going to war with a corporation that owns a day of the week; the same day the church used to own.” You want to talk “sacrosanct,” there it is.
 I once imagined a protest in which the singer would refuse to sing the words “the land of the free” until the U. S. dropped out of the top ten countries that have the highest proportions of their citizens in jail. He or she would just hum those six words—“o’er the land of the free”—before ending the song.