The Air Force (Academy) Is Coming

In case you’ve been living under a rock this week, the one true dominant story about this week’s football game centers around Pregame, but not around anything the Pride does. The tension between people who find it in spirit to end the National Anthem with “home of the SOONERS” and those who do not has been brewing for some time, but when Coach Stoops speaks, it becomes front page news in the Oklahoman. And I’m not exaggerating; I wish I’d saved an image of Wednesday’s front page, but only the current front page is viewable online.

As for me—sing “home of the brave.” One of the freedoms the National Anthem represents is the freedom to sing whatever words you like, or to not sing at all, or do whatever else you want. As a state agency, the University wouldn’t dream of ordering people to say one thing and not another, much less sing them. But the National Anthem ends with “home of the brave.” A song with the same tune that ends with different words is not the National Anthem. “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” is the same tune as “God Save the Queen.” Words matter.

If people are free to burn flags as a form of speech, they can certainly alter the words to the National Anthem if they wish—but they should realize that they’re not singing the National Anthem, and that in itself means something. I sing the words as written for the same reason I don’t have pizza delivered to church or play Frisbee Golf in cemetaries: it’s disrespectful, even if not intended that way. I speak only for myself, and not OU or OUBAA or any combination of any letters, so your mileage may vary.

All the attention has certainly let people know what’s going on at halftime, though: a joint performance with the United States Air Force Academy Cadet Drum & Bugle Corps, as well as with the Singing Sooners, to salute the armed services. Col. Alan Bonner is guest conductor for the National Anthem (arranged well before Anthemgate), and there are multiple flyovers planned for the game. It should be lots of fun!

Even so, the Sooners have their work cut out for them. Air Force is undefeated, and if the polls extended beyond the top 25, they would be ranked either #29 or #30. They defeated BYU last week, something the 2009 Sooners did not accomplish. They’re a clever and talented team with a great opportunity to show they mean business, and I’m pretty sure the football team is taking them very seriously. I know I am.

Fox Sports Networks have regional rights to telecast the game, so check your local listings for the 2:37 PM (CDT) kickoff.

Meanwhile, there are only eight days left to register for Homecoming 2010! I’m shouting because eight days is not very long! We are now less than a month away from the event itself, and registrations are due next weekend (see the big red box at the top of the home page for a countdown). If you have not registered, do so online as soon as you can, or download the newsletter and get it in the mail. The deadline is Saturday, September 25. Did I mention that’s eight days from now? Oh, good!

Hope to see everyone at the game on Saturday. BOOMER SOONER!