The Texas Legislature has uncanceled Mark Cuban’s kibosh on the national anthem before Dallas Mavericks home games.
A bill dubbed the Star Spangled Banner Protection Act got a green light Tuesday, requiring any professional sports team with contracts with the Texas state government to play the anthem before a game, The Texas Tribune reported.
GOP Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign it.
Athletes protesting the national anthem became a partisan issue after then-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling in 2016 to protest police brutality against Black people.
But in February, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick named the bill one of his legislative priorities after Cuban, the Mavericks’ owner, stopped playing the anthem before home games, which went largely unnoticed during the pandemic with no fans in the stands, The Texas Tribune noted.
Cuban was the first pro sports team owner to order the anthem canceled — a decision that quickly drew the ire of conservative Texas lawmakers.
''Sell the franchise & some Texas Patriots will buy it,'' Patrick tweeted at the time. ''We ARE the land of free & the home of the brave.''
Cuban said that he personally supported the anthem, but that team executives ''also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them.''
The NBA later said all teams would play the anthem before games, the Tribune reported.
"Texans are tired of sports teams that pander, insulting our national anthem and the men and women who died fighting for our flag," Patrick said in a statement in April, the Tribune reported. "The passage of [Senate Bill 4] will ensure Texans can count on hearing the Star Spangled Banner at major sports events throughout the state that are played in venues that taxpayers support. We must always remember that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave."
The Texas House of Representatives passed the bill in a 110-34 vote. The measure previously passed the Texas Senate with bipartisan support in April.
According to ABC 13, lawmakers who questioned the constitutionality of the new law were countered by the bill’s sponsor in the House, Republican Rep. Dustin Burrows, who argued the law ''does not violate free speech because teams can still choose not to play the anthem and forgo the funding and business relationship with the state.''
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