The Washington Post

Pledge of Allegiance part of new tradition before Connecticut games

Linda Schwartz, commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Veterans Affairs, led the Pledge of Allegiance before a Nov. 13 Connecticut basketball game. (Jessica Hill / AP)

Paul Pendergast, the interim athletic director, came up with the idea as a way of observing the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks before a Sept. 16 football game.

“It made me think, ‘Why aren't we doing this routinely?’ ” he said. “So we've done it at all the basketball games, the football games and my hope is that we will do it wherever we're playing the anthem. We will do it at field hockey, at soccer and so forth. It will become part of who we are.”

The Pledge of Allegiance holds memories for people, usually classroom memories. “I'm old enough to know when we said it in school,” Geno Auriemma, the women’s basketball coach, said. “I think we said it right before we hid under our desk in case of nuclear attack. It kind of caught me by surprise. I didn't know we were doing it.”'

The school has drawn some criticism on message boards and elsewhere. “I will stand and I will pledge, but I will never pledge to anything under God,”David Silverman, president of American Atheists, said, (via the Associated Press). “I will pledge to one nation, indivisible all the time. And we urge all people at the University of Connecticut to do the same.”

While Connecticut is at it, Auriemma has his own idea for a patriotic tradition: no more guest singers. Let the band play the national anthem.

“When I go to Europe with the U.S. national team, you can't hear anything other than every voice in the building singing their country's national anthem,” he said. “That would be way more meaningful, for me personally as an American, to have everybody in the building sing the national anthem at the top of their lungs, like they really, truly believe in what America stands for. I think sometimes the Pledge of Allegiance becomes kind of rote.”

Does UConn have the right idea? Should the Pledge of Allegiance be added to pregame ceremonies?

Related: NBC apologizes for Pledge of Allegiance error in U.S. Open coverage

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.


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