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Tony Schiavone's Sports Blog

Posted: 9:33 a.m. Friday, Aug. 16, 2013

Note to singers; we can't take it any more! 

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Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Laura Auer
USS Theodore Roosevelt, Facebook Page
Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Laura Auer's version of the Star Spangled Banner is one of the best versions I've ever heard. Ever!

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Remembering Whitney on her 50th photo
George Rose / Getty Images
Whitney Houston's version prior to Super Bowl XXV at Tampa Stadium on January 27, 1991 in Tampa, Florida, will always be the standard by which others can never reach.

By Tony Schiavone

Each year, I attend over 140 baseball games, every UGA football and men's basketball game, and a number of other live sporting events.  So the chances are, I have heard more performances of the National Anthems than you.

I have a message for all the singers of the Star Spangled Banner.

Please stop.

Even though I consider myself a patriotic person, that wonderful song written by Francis Scott Key back in 1814 has been put through the wringer by every American Idol wannabe, and it's driving many of us crazy.

You can see it coming from the time they walk out to take their position on the field or on the court.  As soon as these people appear, you can almost hear a groan coming from the stands.

Here's the point, and one most of the singers don't seem to realize, it's about the SONG, not the SINGER.  I guess television networks feel having a "big star" singing prior to a major sporting event is going to bump up the ratings.  It means nothing.  NOTHING.  How did Christina Aguilera's performance work out at Super Bowl XLV?  First thing I thought of then was "get the hook," and I never remember thinking that during the National Anthem before.

I'm not sure, but this may have all started with the late Whitney Houston.  Back in 1991, she sang the National Anthem prior to Super Bowl XXV in Tampa.  It will go down as the seminal version of the song in modern history.  Quite frankly, she nailed it.  Even though there has been talk that the rendition was lip synced, it doesn't matter.  It was an emotional moment that may not ever be captured again.  Only 10 days before, the CNN made-for-TV war called Desert Storm began.  We were all a little on edge about our first war since Vietnam, and her performance brought us all a sense of national pride.

Since that time, performers, both professional and amateur, have tried to capture that moment.  They cannot, and never will.

UGA athletic director Greg McGarity shares my feeling, I'm sure.  Although he probably would never admit to it, since he took over at the school, the National Anthem prior to UGA men's basketball games has been performed by the Pep Band.  The horrible singers are long gone. 

Recently, I attended a game at Harbor Park in Norfolk, Virginia.  Over 700 crew members of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt were in attendance.  The folks with the Norfolk Tides baseball team always do a great job of honoring and remembering the service men and women, and on this night, Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Laura Auer sang the National Anthem. It was wonderful.  Her version was done the way it should be.  No frills, no showmanship.  Just a great voice singing from the heart. 

So unless it is Laura Auer, I don't want to hear it.  And when it gets right down to it, I'll take Rosanne Barr's performance from 1990 over most I've heard since then. 

Please, let's get rid of  "the land of the freeeeeee....whoaaa....yeahhhhhuhhhhhh" and go back to performing the song the way it was meant to be.

Better yet, just let the band play it.

Tony Schiavone

About Tony Schiavone

Tony Schiavone is the Sports Director of WSB Radio in Atlanta and can be heard anchoring sports each morning on Atlanta's Morning News.

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