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Bohls: There are lots of bombs bursting in the air over the national anthem

Kirk Bohls
Austin American-Statesman

While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:

1. Stand for this? Senate Bill 4 being considered by the 87th Legislature is also known as the Star Spangled Banner Protection Act, said Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway, who authored the bill that would require professional sports teams in Texas to play the national anthem before its games or risk losing any governmental subsidies or tax dollars for any future events or stadiums. Or it might be known to opponents as the So There, Mark Cuban Act after the controversial Dallas Mavericks owner intentionally chose not to play the anthem for weeks before his team’s NBA games until the league office intervened. On Tuesday, the Texas House passed the bill by a 110-34 vote — it has already passed the Senate — and will now go to the governor for consideration. Not sure Greg Abbott has weighed in publicly, but I got an inkling he might just sign it. So here we are back to square one on this very polarizing issue. To cut to the chase, I am as red-blooded a patriot as the next guy, my dad proudly served in the 99th Bomber Group of the Army and I always stand for the national anthem out of total respect for our military and their ultimate sacrifice. But I also understand and accept the reasoning of the Colin Kaepernicks of the world who choose to kneel or otherwise not sing or pay homage to the song. I don't condemn their acts because I recognize the song means different things to different people, and we show patriotism in different ways. And I just don’t think it should be a litmus test for who’s patriotic and who loves this country and who doesn’t. Sen. Buckingham said back in April that the bill “seeks to promote unity and instill pride in our country,” and I’m all for those things. But if the playing of the anthem before sporting events, which first happened at an American baseball game in 1862 when something else was dividing our country if memory serves, creates more division and vitriol and animosity than warm feelings as intended, I think it’s time we should stop playing the song at sporting events. After all, we don’t sing it before concerts or Little League games or piano recitals or birthday parties or bar mitzvahs or restaurant meals.

Players for the Los Angeles Rams kneel during the national anthem before their Jan. 9 NFC wild-card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field.

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2. Queens of the mountain. Not sure what’s in the water at UT these days, but I want some. Texas women’s tennis won the natty in impressive style over the weekend, and the softball team punched its ticket to this week’s super regional with the best offense in school history. The women's golf team was eliminated by Ole Miss in Tuesday's NCAA quarterfinals despite wins by Sophie Guo and Kaitlyn Papp. Sara Kouskova and Agathe Laisne fell 2 and 1, and freshman Ashley Park dropped a tough final match in 22 holes. ... Meanwhile, the baseball team won top honors in the Big 12 and now plays in a league tournament that Big 12 coach of the year David Pierce said he doesn’t favor. And I’m with him. “I don’t like the postseason tournament at all,” Pierce said. “I’d prefer an additional weekend series. I don't think you make money off the tournament (he’s correct), and a tournament can beat your team up. If you lose 100 games in the big leagues, what gives you the right to play in the postseason.” He’s dead on. So why have a tournament where a team seeded seventh or worse knocks out a more deserving team that would better represent the league. … Ace Ty Madden will go in the first game Wednesday against the West Virginia-Kansas winner and didn’t think he’d be on a pitch count to keep him fresh for his regional start next week. “I don't know about a pitch count. I mean, my body feels good. And I'll have something like eight or nine days until the regional starts. So I'm sure I'll let it fly like I do every week,” he said. … Pierce said it’s “tricky” how to approach this tourney because Texas is most likely already assured of a national seed and a host spot in a regional and probably super regional. “It's always interesting if you're in a good spot with your résumé because you want to go out and compete and try to win the tournament,” Pierce said. “But at the same time, you're probably not going to extend a starter. You're probably not going to (use) a guy back-to-back as much as a team that is in a little bit more desperate position to get into the national tournament.” … He’ll likely use down-the-line pitchers like Jared Southard and Drew Shifflet more so as not to tax his more established pitchers, but Pierce also hinted he’d like more at-bats for reserves like Murphy Stehly, Dylan Campbell and Lance Ford.

Texas freshman Malaika Rapolu won her singles match against North Carolina State's Lexi Keberie to help the Longhorns win the NCAA national semifinals. Texas then beat Pepperdine for the national title.

3. Space Mountain, here I come. I enjoyed the UT commencement speech from Robert Iger, executive chairman of the Walt Disney Company, in the glow of Royal-Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. Iger’s message: “Be bold. Take salsa dancing. Go to Disney World.” Nothing like a shameless plug, but I'm down. Iger told the graduates, “Don’t be in the business of playing it safe. Be in the business of creating possibilities for greatness. Use technology to heal not to harm. Embrace life!” … Then President Jay Hartzell thanked him for his remarks and “all those out-of-state tuition checks.”

4. Oversight. Last week, I failed to include the great Texas A&I program (now A&M-Kingsville), which won seven NAIA football national championships, six of them under legendary coach Gil Steinke. He ended his career with three consecutive national titles in 1974-76 and 39 straight wins for his Javelinas, and successor Ron Harms won one title in ’79. That brings the total number of football national championships by Texas colleges to an eye-popping 31. Curious which state has more or even comes close to that figure. Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, whatcha got?

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5.  Phil Time bests Father Time. Watching Phil Mickelson, almost 51, win the PGA Championship was downright thrilling. That said, that crush of people that mobbed him as he strode down the 18th fairway was as scary as exhilarating a sight to behold. … I think Lefty just gave himself a great shot at making the U.S. Ryder Cup team by climbing from 115th in the world to 32nd. In fact, his stunning win could end up costing Scottie Scheffler a spot. The former Longhorn ranked 15th in Ryder Cup points and even played Sunday’s final round with Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker and finished in a tie for ninth with a 70. Scheffler stands 15th in points but Phil looms just behind at 16th, climbing 36 spots.

Phil Mickelson, a month away from his 51st birthday, became the oldest golfer to ever win a major when he captured the PGA Championship in Kiawah Island, S.C., on Sunday.

6. Sorry to see Rob Childress go. That’s part of the price of having left the Southwest Conference/Big 12 for the shark-infested waters of the SEC. The pressure ratchets up exponentially. And when Texas A&M hired athletic director Ross Bjork from a baseball-rich SEC school, Ole Miss, the pressure only mounted. While Childress had a more than solid record with the Aggies (622 wins, 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances but just two College World Series berths), he just couldn’t get over the hump. I’d be totally shocked if Bjork doesn’t back up the Brinks truck at TCU’s Jim Schlossnagle’s house. The Aggies would be fools not to gauge his interest. Texas Tech’s Tim Tadlock would have been a great get for College Station, but the Red Raiders took care of that by signing him to a lifetime contract. After losing Chris Beard to Texas, AD Kirby Hocutt had no choice. … I’d give Texas assistant Sean Allen a good chance at landing the Rice job. I don’t think the Owls will look at TCU pitching coach Kirk Saarloos again after he turned them down three years ago. Rice would be smart to hire Allen or Childress, but Mississippi State hitting coach Jake Gautreau may well be the frontrunner, as Kendall Rogers of Division I Baseball suggests.

7. Katching up with Kiki. Former Longhorns defensive end Kiki DeAyala, from Houston Memorial, was the best pass rusher in school history. He had staggering totals of 22.5 sacks in 1982 and 40.5 career sacks. He lives in Rockport and has three grown children. He recently told Texas Legacy Support Network that his most memorable sacks were the one to close out the Cotton Bowl win against Alabama and some takedowns against Arkansas in 1982 in his last game in Memorial Stadium as the ABC player of the game. “It was a cool way to end my career at Texas," he said. DeAyala played for both Leon Fuller and David McWilliams, two of the best defensive coordinators in school history along with gold standard Mike Campbell. “Coach Fuller was a very disciplined and stoic personality. When you received a compliment from coach Fuller, it really meant something. Coach Mac was a bit more relaxed. Both were excellent coaches.”

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8. Scattershooting. While wondering whatever happened to brothers Chuck and Jay Knoblauch, star baseball players at Texas A&M and Rice.

9. On the couch: Haven't quite finished "Your Honor," starring favorite Bryan Cranston as a New Orleans judge caught up in a dispute with a local mob boss. Giving it 8 ducks.

Crazy prediction: MLB will have 14 no-hitters this season, obliterating the modern record of 7.