Quick Slant: Williams on community board

Jan. 25, 2013

Quick Slant is an array of brief insights and occasionally opinionated overviews of collegiate athletics in general and the Vanderbilt Commodores in particular.

David Williams has been named advisory board chair of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee by The Sports Fund, a proactive, long-term charitable solution to a range of issues facing Middle Tennessee's children, including childhood obesity, gang membership, and teen pregnancy. By awarding funds to nonprofits and community programs that use athletics as a "hook," The Sports Fund supports organizations that offer tutoring, provide a source of activity during after-school hours, and give kids a sense of belonging and guidance from coaches.

Have you lost sleep worrying if Beyonce used a recording to sing the national anthem at the Inauguration? If so, we hate to shock you by saying that you've probably heard and enjoyed recorded renditions before some Vanderbilt games. From 1983-1994, lining up national anthem singers was one of our duties. The toughest challenge in landing big-time singers was/is their legitimate fear of mangling the words ("you can forget the lyrics to your own song and be forgiven but you are not allowed to botch the national anthem," one star fretted to us) or, more likely, sound mediocre over a tinny public address system as in most football stadiums. Think about it; if you were a renowned woodworker, would you want to borrow a neighbor's old tools to build a bookcase in front of thousands? Most anthems were performed "live" but a few times, the artist or group cared enough to record the song under ideal conditions, then sing into a microphone that was not activated as the beautiful recording played. We could write a long chapter in our book about our experiences with the national anthem and its performers!

Bonus question: Can anyone give us the reason the national anthem is performed before sporting events? No Googling allowed! Answer at the bottom.

The NCAA is shrinking its much maligned rule book with the first wave of reductions going into effect August 1, 2013. For the cynics, this is easy stuff ("where's the nearest trash can?") but for coaches and administrators who must live by its mandates, or the high school hot shots that will be recruited in the years to come, the changes are significant. In the first set of announced changes, many recruiting-oriented restrictions are being eliminated. Quick Slant is not the place for detailed analysis, more to offer readers a heads-up that they will be hearing or reading about these changes in the weeks and months ahead.

Jordan Rodgers will follow his brother Aaron's footsteps when he competes in the All Star Football Challenge, a skills challenge for the top football players about to enter the NFL Draft. Alumni of the event include Drew Brees, Donovan McNabb, Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss, Matt Ryan, Greg Olsen, Joe Flacco, Vince Young and Von Miller. This year the private event takes place on Jan. 29 at Cowboys Stadium and televised by ESPN2 on Feb. 2 at 9:00 p.m. (CST).

Answer to bonus question: The national anthem was played sporadically before or during a few professional baseball games prior to the 1940s. During World War II, fans felt it proper to pause before enjoying a ball game to honor the brave soldiers fighting for our freedom, far away. Playing the national anthem was a solution and it became a wide-spread tradition.



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