With few or zero fans in attendance this season because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Dallas Mavericks’ decision to stop playing the national anthem before home games garnered little notice until this week, when team owner Mark Cuban confirmed that he had directed the team to stop playing the song.

On Wednesday, however, the NBA decreed that “all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy.” So it seems Cuban’s attempt to stop playing the anthem will meet the same fate as others that came before it.

As noted by Marc Ferris in his book, “Star-Spangled Banner,” Baltimore Orioles General Manager Arthur Ehlers decided to stop playing the anthem before games in 1954 — the Orioles’ first season in Baltimore — because it “tends to cheapen the song and lessen the thrill of response.”

“Crowds at stadiums and other sports arenas have a way of continuing to laugh and talk and move about while the anthem is being played,” Ehlers, a World War I veteran and former American Legion post commander, told the Associated Press in May 1954. “That applies to fights, wrestling matches, stock car races — and baseball games. To me it is very distasteful.”

Ehlers said the Orioles would play the anthem before games only on special occasions, such as Memorial Day, but his edict drew the ire of the Baltimore City Council, which hardly is surprising considering the city’s role in the creation of the song’s lyrics. The council passed a measure that encouraged the song’s playing before sporting events, and Ehlers relented.

A little more than a decade later in 1966, the Chicago White Sox decided to replace “The Star Spangled Banner” with “God Bless America” because fans “just weren’t singing” the national anthem, GM Ed Short said.

“We wanted some patriotic song, something that still carried the spirit, but something the people could sing, too,” Short said.

After an outcry, which included “God Bless America” songwriter Irving Berlin writing a letter asking that the team switch back to the national anthem, the White Sox let the fans vote on which song they preferred, and “The Star Spangled Banner” came out on top.

The Chicago Cubs, meanwhile, did not start playing the national anthem before every home game until 1967, as team owner Philip K. Wrigley also believed that overuse would cheapen the song’s meaning.

Like Cuban’s decision, Northern Illinois University President Richard Nelson’s 1971 edict that the national anthem not be played before the Huskies’ basketball games went unnoticed until about a week into the season, when a reporter for the campus newspaper asked him about it. According to a 2017 Chicago Sun Times article, Nelson decided not to play the song “to keep the peace between black students who had protested during its playing the prior season and white students who took exception.

“The reasoning behind my decision is simply that the playing of the national anthem should be inspirational and a symbol of unity for all those who hear it,” he said. “If in a particular context it becomes a symbol of divisiveness, and has a potential for doing harm to the overall well-being of the university community, I believe it serves no purpose for it to be played.”

But after letters poured in, many of them blaming Black students for Nelson’s decision, he reversed course and reinstated the song. Black NIU students continued to sit during the anthem in protest for years afterward.

At other times, playing of the anthem was a matter of cost and practicality. President Woodrow Wilson decreed that “The Star Spangled Banner” be played at official U.S. military events in 1916 and the song was first used before a sporting event two years later, but it still didn’t universally catch on at all games.

“The thing is, you had to hire a band. That was expensive, so it was only for special occasions,” Ferris told NPR in 2016. But with the invention of public-address systems that could play recorded versions of the song, it became much cheaper for teams to do so and “they started to play it before every game,” Ferris said.

For the most part, anyway.