Selective Outrage in Johnson City

Marky Billson
3 min readJun 2, 2023

Memorial Day reminds us a blatant hypocrisy regarding respect for veterans at ETSU.

Marky Billson

At East Tennessee State University it is okay for the administration to dishonor America’s fallen veterans but not okay for students to do it.

That is the only determination one can make when one considers the outrage so many ETSU fans and boosters had in 2021 when it was revealed the Buccaneers’ mens basketball team was kneeling for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner prior to their Feb. 6 game at Chattanooga, but no uproar or even comment was made a decade before when then-ETSU President Paul Stanton changed the name of the “Minidome” from Memorial Center to the Mountain States Health Alliance Athletic Center.

This picture was taken in 2019, long after MSHA had become Ballad Health.

This was not a naming rights deal. ETSU did not receive a check from MSHA for changing the name.

It was a gift from Stanton, presumably because he thought big business deserved recognition more than fallen veterans.

Granted, “Memorial Center” was a dull name and few referred to the building by it.

But it was an honorable name. And taking it off the building to something even less recognizable, just for the sake of doing so, is even at least as greater of an affront to our military than kneeling for the national anthem, if not more so.

So why did one act go practically unnoticed, while the other sparked such outrage the head coach up resigning and a team that went 30–4 in 2019–20 has gone 29–43 in the two plus years since?

It speaks of a disturbing local cultural mindset willing to criticize the individual(s) but not the establishment.

I’ve spoken of the Minidome’s renaming before, but Memorial Day made me think of this again.

ETSU even had a chance to right this wrong with their new administration and the fact MSHA is now named Ballad Health.

They did not. And frankly, with the Minidome now rarely used for events and the lack of public outcry it’s unlikely ETSU ever will even with the building practically across the street from the Veterans…