You might think sports are about sports. No. They’re about the troops. And America. And sometimes Canada too, but rarely in the NHL playoffs. But how can you prove, if you’re a team in, say, the Stanley Cup Final, that you really care about America and its uniformed services? (If you go one day without honoring them, you are anti-troop.) The answer is flags. You can get a big flag, but those are expensive. Or you can get lots of flags. More flags = more America.
There’s a small problem with this, as the St. Louis Blues demonstrated on Saturday night during the singing of the national anthem before Game 3: There are only so many flags.
You need your American flag, of course, and your St. Louis city flag and your Missouri state flag. But a color guard of three behind the anthem singer would not look all that impressive. Throw in a St. Louis police flag, since SLMPD officers made up the color guard. A Blues flag? Sure, we’re getting a little away from the troops, but in a way, hockey players are the troops of the ice. But that’s still not enough flags.
And so there it was, second from the right during Saturday’s anthem. Gleaming the white of freedom and the green of commerce. Held proudly at honor, for America. The flag of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, long may it wave.
Uni Watch’s Paul Lukas noticed this, and he was upset, describing it as “gross and tone-deaf.” (As Lukas noted, the entire color guard itself is a commercial thing. The Blues, during the regular season, sell group ticket packages by letting those groups make up the color guard.)
Enterprise owns corporate naming rights to the Blues’ arena, and the Taylor family, which founded and runs Enterprise, also makes up part of the Blues’ ownership group. But how did this specific arrangement come about?
On Monday I emailed the Blues’ media relations department to ask about the circumstances behind the Enterprise flag’s inclusion in the color guard, was forwarded to their public relations department, then promptly ignored. I went to Enterprise, but was paralyzed for a few minutes by indecision over whether I should use their line for “reporter inquiries” or for “blogger inquiries.” I eventually emailed both, and did not hear back from either. I emailed the NHL and got back a very genial response saying, basically, Yeah, that’s all the Blues’ doing. I could almost see the eyeroll.
Though the Blues decided to remain mum on their own personal flag code, they definitely noticed the attention. For Monday’s Game 4, the Enterprise flag was nowhere to be seen.
The Blues won Game 4. You’d have to be naive to think that’s a coincidence.
This appears to be the end of the short, dramatic Enterprise flag saga. And thankfully so. The Blues’ inclusion of the Enterprise flag in the color guard did an enormous disservice to the true time-honored sports tradition: rampant commercialism and the jamming of advertising into every available second and square foot. It only cheapened a valued corporate partner to put it on the same level as the lip service paid to troops and country.