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Sharks fans boo ``O Canada''

May 14, 2006

Sharks have lost 3 straight. (Getty Images)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- San Jose Sharks fans loudly booed the Canadian national anthem Sunday night before Game 5 of their team's second-round playoff series with the Edmonton Oilers.

The vociferous booing started from the opening notes of singer Annmarie Martin's rendition of "O Canada." While other fans attempted to drown it out by singing along, the boos were audible until the final notes.

Pregame anthem booing was a hot-button issue in sports shortly after the beginning of the war in Iraq, with fans in Chicago's Wrigley Field, Montreal's Bell Centre and other arenas booing their neighbors' anthem from 2002-04.

There was no apparent political motive for the booing in San Jose -- just a questionable expression of the fans' dislike of the Oilers, who won the last two games in Edmonton to tie the series at two games apiece.

The Shark Tank fans didn't boo "O Canada" before the first two games, and fans in Edmonton didn't boo "The Star-Spangled Banner" last week.
 

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I'm not even sure why they play the national anthem(s) at hockey games. It's not like this was team Canada versus team USA. Other people have pointed out that the 'stars' of the Sharks are actually Canadian, and as far as I can tell, there were players from at least five different countries playing last night.

I guess the anthems are played out of 'respect' for the country, or maybe it's just tradition. Maybe it's because we identify hockey with part of our national 'being' or something. It just (to me) seems silly to do it when the league has become more diverse than it ever has been before. I guess the same could be said for football, baseball or basketball.

I also wonder when singing 'O Canada' actually became common at sporting events and why it did. Does it mirror trends that occured in the States? I also wonder if people sang 'God Save the Queen' or even 'the Maple Leaf Forever' at prior to games before 'O Canada' became the national anthem. If they did not, why did it change.

Also, do they do this in Europe, or just in North America? I know that when I've been to soccer games in England, the anthem wasn't played beforehand.
 
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