With the Super Bowl about to start soon and all the hoopla about Steven Tyler’s version of the Star Spangled Banner two weeks ago, I remember that I wondered as I wandered around India whether other countries play their national anthems at sporting and other events the way we Americans do. As someone who attends lots of sporting and other events, I sometimes suffer from national anthem overload. It’s played or sung at every high school football, basketball, and soccer game I go to. Every college and professional sport plays or has it sung as well. Some performances are very good, some not so much, but it’s omnipresent. And at most of these events, there is little to no singing along in the stands by the spectators.

I wonder if they play “God Save the Queen” at every English Premier League game, and also at every high school soccer or other athletic competition? Do they play the Indian national anthem at every cricket match? Does India even have a national anthem? I’m sure they do, but most of my knowledge of national anthems comes from the Olympics, and India has only won three gold medals in my lifetime.

One of the most impressive performances of the Star Spangled banner comes every time we attend the Fort Worth Symphony. A little odd, but the orchestra plays the song as their first piece immediately after the conductor takes the stage. The tempo seems to always match the first scheduled performance piece, so it’s almost as if it’s an orchestra warm-up. But what’s impressive is the audience at the symphony – they don’t stand around (or wait to yell out “Stars” like the hockey crowd) – they sing. Loud and well, they sing.

It’s really pretty nice.

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