There are some things that are simply indefensible. One of those things is 11-year-old Harper Gruzins' rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" at Saturday's FC Dallas-L.A. Galaxy soccer match called out by Deadspin.
The Morning News didn't think so. Nancy Churnin wrote an indignant counter-post this afternoon: "Deadspin dead 'off' in attacking 11-year-old's rendition of the National Anthem."
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So I listened to her rendition and I was flabbergasted by the vitriol. First, if you hate the way she sang the song that much, why are you posting it and encouraging readers to listen over and over? Just to make fun of her? Second, Deadspin compares this "worst ever" performance to renditions by Steven Tyler and Roseanne. Remember, they are adults, and they tampered with the song, with Roseanne grabbling her crotch with the misguided idea that everyone would think that was funny. Harper was off key, but she sang the song proudly, enunciating all the words and putting everything she had into it.
She concludes: "Although it's a funny thing, if you don't humiliate and tear those dreamers down, some of them may actually grow into their dreams. Seems worth the chance of refraining from attacks like this."
We wish Harper Gruzins the best. Maybe she just had an off night, but whose dreams are we talking about here? I'm sure there are millions of 11-year-olds who dream of being pop stars and think they can sing really well, but does that mean they should belt out the national anthem in front of a few million people? Does that mean she needs a manager and a promotional website?
That's where the parents should step in. There's a big difference between encouraging a child to dream and inflating their ego to unreasonable proportions, either through overindulgence of childish whims or through the parents' vicarious pursuit of glory.