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American Tradition in Sports

June 28, 2013
By Jon Buzby

Baseball, hot dogs and apple pie are all American traditions.

On July 4, we celebrate America's birthday.

There will be parades and picnics all over the country as we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and our freedom from England.

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Do you know why John Hancock signed his signature so large? (So the King of England could read it even without his spectacles). Do you know that both the author and editor of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, coincidentally died on July 4? These are just generic trivia questions that you can impress your picnic-goers with on that special day.

So how do we tie this holiday to sports? There are two traditions relating to our country's freedom that often occur during sporting events, but my guess is many people are not aware of their true origin.

Just about every sporting event begins with the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner" -- America's National Anthem. But do the players listening know why it's played?

In 1918, the United States was fighting in World War I. With American soldiers facing intense combat in France, baseball officials considered canceling the World Series. But when they learned how much the soldiers were looking forward to hearing the radio broadcast of the games, they reconsidered. And to help boost soldier morale, as a patriotic gesture, baseball officials played the "Star-Spangled Banner" during the seventh-inning stretch. Everyone stood and sang along. Eventually, the "Star-Spangled Banner" became a tradition at all baseball games and before every other major sporting event as well, including many youth events.

A second tradition will occur on July 4 in just about every professional baseball park at all levels: Win or lose the home team will host a spectacular fireworks show.

Do you know that the tradition of fireworks comes directly from England -- the very country we fought against in the Revolutionary War to gain our freedom?

In England, it was common practice to shoot off fireworks to celebrate birthdays. So, it became a tradition to celebrate America's birthday by having bombs bursting in air and lighting up the sky on the Fourth of July.

One of the greatest things to teach your kids about this holiday as they watch the fireworks is to be thankful that here in America, unlike other places around the globe, the bombs bursting in air on the evening of July 4 will be celebrated and end before any lives do.

The Fourth and sports -- two great American traditions.

Contact Jon Buzby at and follow him @youthsportsbuzz on Twitter.



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