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Crowds go wild when soldiers, veterans, and first responders sing the national anthem. It’s something universally applauded – or so we thought. Not so, says ESPN’s Howard Bryant.

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Writing for an upcoming issue of ESPN the Magazine, Bryant says that cops singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” is “staged patriotism,” and argues that it signals an “authoritarian shift at the ballpark.”

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“Why don’t more athletes speak out on behalf of their communities?” Bryant wrote. “Perhaps more of them would if there wasn’t a chilling force looming over them.”

“This is feeding into the 9/11 hero narrative”,  continues the article, suggesting Bryant himself doesn’t believe police officers responding to 9/11 are heroes.

The crew from Fox & Friends took on the story head on, questioning just how far from the mainstream Bryant and ESPN have gone. Remember, this is the same network that has repeatedly fired people for expressing conservative viewpoints – most recently terminating Curt Schilling for tweets he made about the transgender issue.

“What is the problem here with expressing some patriotism?” Anna Kooiman asked.

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“What is ESPN doing putting this on one of their platforms,” asked Peter Doocy. “People don’t go to ESPN for racially inflammatory political views. They want to hear about Steph Curry and whether his defense is any good.”

You can see the full segment here:

It’s not the first time ESPN has been openly against the national anthem or displays of patriotism in sporting events.

During an airing of Around the Horn, Kevin Blackistone called the national anthem a war anthem and said he was opposed to it. He further said that people should also be opposed to “military symbolism embraced in sports. Whether it’s the singing of a war anthem before every game. Whether its going to get a hot dog and being able to sign up for the Army at the same time. Whether it’s the NFL’s embrace of the mythology of the Pat Tillman story. Its been going on in sports since the first national anthem was played in the World Series in 1917 and it’s time for people to back away.”