TULSA, Okla. – Tulsa Athletic announced Wednesday the National Premier Soccer League club will no longer play the “The Star-Spangled Banner” and will play a new song, “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie, at all home matches.
The National Premier Soccer League team said that its mission was to create an inclusive community through the game of soccer.
Tulsa found itself in the middle of national and international news last Saturday when President Trump held his first campaign rally since the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a team press release, after carefully reviewing “The Star-Spangled Banner” lyrics and meaning, including the third verse which mentions “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave…,” Tulsa Athletic stated that it came to the decision that the song does not align with the club’s core values. While this verse is rarely sung, the club said that it did not believe national anthem represents or unites their diverse players, fans and community.
“From our beginning, we have developed a culture of inclusion and acceptance at Tulsa Athletic,” co-owner Sonny Dalesandro said in a statement. “We live in a country that allows us to freely speak our voice. We utilize this right as a club to continually try and improve our team and community. We believe ‘This Land Is Your Land’ not only captures a powerful patriotic sentiment, but that it does so in a far more inclusive way. The song speaks to this country being built and shared by every person of every race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation. It represents a future Tulsa Athletic is committed to striving for.”
Fans can sing along if they are comfortable, according to the press release. As always, all forms of patriotic expression are welcomed and respected at Tulsa Athletic’s matches.
Tulsa Athletic said that it was looking forward to kicking off this new tradition with a special Equality Cup against Minneapolis City at Veterans Park in Tulsa. No date has been set for the match.
George Floyd was murdered by a policeman in Minneapolis in May, sparking a national outcry and a renewed effort by the Black Lives Matter movement.