High school hockey league decides national anthem will be mandatory

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer

As it turns out there are a lot of people in the United States who don't like it when a high school hockey league decides to skip the national anthem in an effort to save time and money.

On Tuesday, we passed along the news out of southwestern Pennsylvania that a high school hockey league decided it would suggest skipping the national anthem before games because some of the performances were taking too long (but perhaps not this long) and having an impact on the completion of games.

On Wednesday, the league announced it has reversed course and will now make the performance of the national anthem mandatory before all games.

“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," PIHL commissioner Ed Sam told KDKA in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. "There's no doubt about that, and we're going to fix that mistake.”

Sam said the national anthem will be required before every game, and a 75-second instrumental recording will be distributed to each of the schools in the league.

Due to the costs of ice-time and the number of schools that have to share a limited number of rinks in the area, games in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League have to be completed in a predetermined amount of time. If the game isn't completed when that time frame passes, it is stopped whether there is still time remaining on the clock.

At least one recent game had to be stopped because a performance of the national anthem went too long, helping to lead to the controversial decision to skip it.

Sam told KDKA that he received 4,000 emails and phone calls from all over the country criticizing the decision.

“I didn't expect it, but I certainly understand it,” Sam told KDKA. “It is something that touches home with a lot of people.”

Especially when the decision is made in the week leading up to, of all holidays, Veterans Day.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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