For more than a century, "The Star-Spangled Banner" has been played or sung before sporting events across the nation. And while numerous singers both acclaimed and unknown have taken on this heralded song, country artists seem to do it best.

It's no surprise the Super Bowl has selected a singer from country music to sing our nation's anthem the last four years in a row. Our artists belt out those words with authority and authenticity.

The History of the National Anthem

According to the Smithsonian, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was written in 1814 by a poet named Francis Scott Key. After seeing the American flag flying over Fort McHenry the morning after an attack from the British, he penned one verse. Later, Key wrote three more verses, which were printed in the paper.

The poem picked up steam and was printed in numerous papers up and down the East Coast, using the title "Defence of Fort M'Henry." According to The Kennedy Center, the poem was set to the tune of an old drinking song called "To Anacreon in Heaven" by John Stafford Smith. Eventually one paper would take creative liberty and rename the song "The Star-Spangled Banner."

It wasn't until 1931 that the song became the national anthem, when President Herbert Hoover signed it into law. Despite there being four verses, only one is generally sung.

Why Do We Play the National Anthem at Sporting Events?

Some of the earliest records of "The Star-Spangled Banner" being played before a sporting event were in the 19th century at a baseball game or two.

It was in 1918 — in the midst of World War I — during Game 1 the World Series that the U.S. Navy band played the song during the seventh-inning stretch. When the recently drafted Red Sox infielder, Fred Thomas, turned toward the flag and saluted it, the crowd followed suit. The stadium began to sing and put their hands over their hearts.

The moment was so special, and it stuck. From then on, every game in the series featured the song. At the end of World War II, NFL Commissioner Elmer Layden made the song mandatory for every football game. From there, more events started incorporating it into their routine.

Keep scrolling to see which country artists have kept this tradition going and have sung "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a sporting event.

Jess hosts the syndicated radio show, Taste of Country Weekend, which can be heard on country stations nationwide. Tune in for all of the best new country music, spotlights on new tracks and emerging artists, plus Double-Downs on all of your favorites. The weekend is always better with a little Taste of Country in it.

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