Reporting John Shumway
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The governing body of local high school hockey is having a change of heart after backlash to the decision to ban the National Anthem from pregame ceremonies.
“You go through life and you make a mistake, and sometimes – no all the time – you have to face up to those mistakes, and I think I made a mistake here. There’s no doubt about that, and we’re going to fix that mistake.”
Those were the words of PIHL Commissioner Ed Sam on Tuesday to KDKA.
Last week, Sam sent out a letter to the entire league saying no one would be allowed to sing or otherwise perform the National Anthem before PIHL hockey games.
That covers 183 schools in Central and Western Pennsylvania and parts of West Virginia.
After KDKA reported the ban, the PIHL’s email inbox was flooded with messages of protest.
“We’re talking Florida, Texas, California,” Sam says. “I talked to a gentleman from Minnesota yesterday it’s all over the country.”
He even heard from FOX and CNN.
“I didn’t expect it, but I certainly understand it,” he says. “It is something that touches home with a lot of people.”
It was after the lengths of periods in the hockey games were extended by a couple of minutes that the league started having trouble getting the games in during the tight allotted time on rented ice.
A few verbose singings of the National Anthem resulted in games having to be curfewed (stopped before the clock ran out). That’s what prompted the decision to ban the anthem.
Four-thousand emails and phone calls later, Commissioner Sam says, “I made a mistake, you face up to it, you fix the problem, and you go forward.”
So, as of Tuesday night, not only is the anthem back, it’s now required to be played.”
“We already got one National Anthem, it’s 1:15 seconds, and it’s an instrumental,” he says. “We just want to keep a level playing field for all the teams, and we will be playing the National Anthem at all games.”
Copies of the anthem will be made and distributed to the rinks where the games are staged.
Commissioner Sam says they will also be making sure those facilities have the capability of playing the CD as well.
“The National Anthem now becomes a part of our games,” the Commissioner says. “We’re proud to do it and that’s what we’re going to do.”