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Here's why embattled Star-Spangled Banner should remain in American sports. New column; plus Baseball has return plan. But is sports walking into giant mess?, Le Batard and Papi on new Greg Cote Show podcast, Noose in Bubba Wallace's garage & more


1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 27. Our Greg Cote Show podcast is now separately on Twitter and Instagram. Follow us on both! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Greg Cote Show podcast Episode 17 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter and Instagram.

CoteshowGREG COTE SHOW PODCAST: DAN LE BATARD, PAPI STAR IN NEW NEW EPISODE 17 OUT NOW!: Our Miami Herald podcast, "The Greg Cote Show With Greg Cote," debuted in March and Episode 17 is out now! A new episode drops every Monday morning on Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Megaphone or wherever you do your podding, and of course at MiamiHerald.com. Find all 17 we've done so far right here. Free! No paywall! Please listen, subscribe, rate and review. Episode 17 is a Father's Day special with ESPN's Dan Le Batard and his dad Papi -- in Papi's first interview since he walked away from his fulltime role on Dan's Highly Questionable show. Why did he leave? Might he return? Join the conversation. That and more in new Ep17! Find every podcast we've done so far HERE.

Our Shula tribute columns: DON SHULA, 1930-2020, R.I.P. and WHAT SHULA MEANT TO A FATHER & SON. THE BOY WAS ME

Our George Floyd-related columns: Sports' Gradual Return Offers America Relief, a Respite We Desperately Need  /  It Took George Floyd To Finally Wake Up White America  /  Goodell's NFL Response to George Floyd Killing Is Hypocrisy At Its Most Ironic  /  and George Floyd Is Why Kaepernick & Sports Must Continue Fight For Social Justice

HERE'S WHY EMBATTLED STAR-SPANGLED BANNER SHOULD REMAIN A PART OF AMERICAN SPORTS: You thought kneeling during the national anthem was controversial? How about eliminating the national anthem? Erasing its place at sporting events altogether? It is a conversation we will be having. The signs already are here. A debate will arise from the ongoing nationwide Flagmovement for social justice and against police brutality and racial inequality in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and others. Symbolism matters in all of this. It is why Confederate statues are toppled and why Aunt Jemima got retired. It’s why we leaped to a false conclusion over the noose in Bubba Wallace’s garage. Sometimes, overreaction is better than no action at all. Now, the maelstrom of conscience the nation is in will lead some to wonder what the "Star-Spangled Banner" has to do with games, anyway? It already has. And if you ever doubted that we are polarized, far more divided than united, all the evidence required is that even the national anthem might be seen as a lightning rod of controversy. Former U.S. men’s national soccer team coach Bruce Arena, to ESPN’s Taylor Twellman: "I think it puts people in awkward positions. We don’t use the national anthem at movie theaters and on Broadway, other events in the United States, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to have a national anthem before a baseball game, an MLS game." This week we saw the first team to take Arena up on his suggestion. The Tulsa Athletic of the lower-tier National Premier Soccer League announced it no longer would play the national anthem before matches, and would replace the "Star-Spangled Banner" with another patriotic song, Woody Guthrie’s "This Land Is Your Land." What sports will be this summer in its restart from the coronavirus/COVID-19 delay could be the excuse sports needs to move from the national anthem as an every-game routine. No fans in the stands would be that excuse. MLS already has said it would not play the anthem before games in empty stadiums. Whether this becomes any sort of trend, we shall see. I hope it does not. Unlike many of my media brethren, I support continuing to play our national anthem before sporting events. To read our full most recent column, please visit Saving the National Anthem From Sporting-Event Extinction.

MlbBASEBALL JOINS IN WITH RESTART PLAN, BUT IS SPORTS WALKING INTO A MESS IT WILL REGRET? LATEST COLUMN: Step aside, Fubon Guardians and Rakuten Monkeys. Thank you for your service, Hyundai Unicorns and Kiwoon Heroes. Riveted as we have been by the Chinese and Korean brand of baseball, the Yankees and Dodgers will take it from here. Baseball is back! Sort of. Sports is back! Or at least this bizarre, pandemic version of it. MLB finally has a resumption plan to belatedly join the NBA, NHL and MLS in summer restarts, and the NFL and college football still hope to play as scheduled this fall — but with an asterisk as big as a cardboard golf check attached to every sport as 2020 plays out. So our leagues and teams move forward. But are they stepping into a giant mess they will regret? For our full recent column, please visit Baseball Joins In With Restart Plan. But Is Sports Walking Into a Giant Mess?

NOOSE LEFT IN BUBBA WALLACE'S NASCAR GARAGE TAKES UNEXPECTED TURN: [Update: FBI found that the noose in Wallace's garage was being used to hold a door open and had been there since October -- not placed with Wallace in mind. "It was still a noose," said Wallace] Original post: It took a single coward in the cover of darkness, or was it a few? It took this one act to remind us how far we have not come, how far we have yet to go. It took this one gut-churning symbol of hatred and inequality to verify to all why America is in the streets right now — exactly Bubba Wallacewhy a national movement is marching for change. A noose, placed in Bubba Wallace’s garage. A noose, at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama, placed in the workspace of the NASCAR Cup Series’ lone Black driver. A noose, someone’s answer to the man who led and won the fight to see NASCAR recently step forward and ban Confederate flags at all of its tracks. A noose, in 2020 America, and suddenly we are in the 19th century again, where men in pointy white hoods carried torches, where 41 persons of color were found hanged in Gainesville, Texas, in 1862, where 30 years after that the governor of South Carolina, Benjamin Tillman, said, "We of the South have never recognized the right of the negro to govern white men, and we never will." Wallace never saw the noose, only the unimaginable prejudice and gall that put it there. A member of his team found it late Saturday night and immediately informed NASCAR. "Today’s despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism," Wallace wrote on Twitter. "We will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate." This is why Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem. This is why thousands nationwide — Black and white — march for George Floyd and for Breonna Taylor and for all of the other victims of the systemic racism that can foment deadly police brutality. To read our full recent column, please visit Noose Left For NASCAR's Bubba Wallace's Only Grows Resolve to End Racial Hatred.

My previous most recent columns: Team That Signs Kaepernick Will Be Champions Of the Street  /  Should Sports Take the Rest Of 2020 Off? There's An Argument  /  and Amid Pandemic And Protests, 'America's Pastime' Is Letting American Down

Select earlier recent columns: Return Of Sports Promises Historic TV Smorgasbord / Homestead Is Test Lab As NASCAR Gradually Welcomes Back Fans / R.I.P. Kurt Thomas, an American Gymnastics Pioneer  / MLB Players Demanding More Millions, Right Now, Is A Bad Look / Amid a Pandemic, An Outrage in Alamance County / Welcome to Sports Without Fans, the New Normal / As NBA, MLB Plot Return, We Miss Them -- Yet Sports Have Never Seemed More Trivial / Anticipation of Relevance, Excitement Is Tua's Gift to Miami / Hall of Famer Andre Dawson On Baseball and Owning a Funeral Home Amid COVID-19 / Dolphins Aim High, Win Big With Tua Tagovailoa Pick / Greg Cote's 2020 NFL Mock Draft / Coronavirus, Tua Make This Dolphins' Weirdest, Most Interesting Draft Ever / NFL Draft Will Offer Blunt Verdict on Canes' Talent / Ultimate All-Time South Florida Major Sports Trivia Challenge / Sports Should Stop Pretending It Will Resume Anytime Soon As Coronovirus Rages / How a Longtime Herald Sport Writer Came to Own a Top Contender in Florida Derby / Time for NBA, NHL to Shut it Down, End Seasons / Le Batard Show Deals with Coronavirus-Related Upheaval / Brady Leaving Patriots for Tampa. Will Belichick Be Proved Right In Letting Him Go? / Miami Sports Now Utterly Engulfed By Coronavirus Threat -- But Precaution Is Justified / Inter Miami Is Market's Sleeping Giant As Home Opener Nears / Jeter Arrives At Camp, Calls Marlins 'Layered With Talent' / Dwyane Wade, His Transgender Daughter And A Lesson In Love / Time For Anonymous Lone Voter Who Denied Jeter To Step Forward / Heat And Gloriously Impatient Riley Win In Trade For Iguodala / Return Of Ed Reed, Even If Mostly Symbolic, Leads Surge By Canes Football / Our two-part series: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins and How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90 / Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His / Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / and Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team

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Revisit this blog often because it updates regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors writing awards has ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Greg is also a regular on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio. Finding Greg Cote:  Twitter.  Instagram.  Facebook.  Columns.  Podcast.  Podcast on Twitter.  Podcast on Instagram.  LeBatard Show.  Book: Fins At 50.  Songs: Letting Go (video) and The Ballad Of 1440 (audio).