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National Anthem Suggestion Stirs Controversy Among High School Hockey Community

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It is a controversial move by the organization that oversees local high school hockey.

With ice time so expensive, and in order to keep the games running on time, the league commissioner has suggested doing away with the National Anthem. And the resulting backlash has been fierce.

Playing the National Anthem is as much a part of sporting events as hot dogs and yelling at the officials.

But PIHL Commissioner Ed Sam sent out an email to the 183 high school teams in Central and Western Pennsylvania saying the singing of the National Anthem is not permitted.

"The National Anthem should not be played only because of time constrains," said Sam. "It's not that we're not patriotic, that's the furthest from the truth."

High school hockey must rent the ice time, so every game is carefully timed to get as many in as possible in the shortest amount of time.

"Ice is very, very hard to get and it's not cheap," said Sam. "We're talking $300 an hour sometimes or even higher than that."

So, when the time for a game is up, play is stopped even if the game is running over because of an over verbose singing of the National Anthem, which happened recently.

"No, they should just extend the time period they have to play the game," said Melanie Chakrabarti, of Murrysville.

"I don't agree with it. There should be some other time that can be cut," added Beth Spena, of Irwin.

Commissioner Sam points out teams aren't prohibited from playing the Anthem, just discouraged.

"I go back to the 1960s with high school hockey, and it's always been a part of it," said Bob Mock, the skating director at Center Ice. "A part of our history, and it should be a part of the game."

Mock suggests a pre-recorded standardized minute and a half version for all games.

The story isn't over though; Sam says because of the backlash they've been getting, they're going to have another meeting. They're going to talk about it and see if they can make some adjustments to put the Nation Anthem back into the games.

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