Why Some Sports Teams Are Dropping Kate Smith's 'God Bless America'

Kate Smith's "God Bless America" is a classic, but now it's being banned by some sports teams.
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Kate Smith's version of "God Bless America" is a classic. 

But now it's being banned by some sports teams, including the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Flyers, because of allegations of racism against Smith. 

A fan recently pointed out that Smith recorded two songs with demeaning lyrics.

In a 1931 song, she sings, "Someone had to pick the cotton / Someone had to plant the corn / Someone had to slave and be able to sing."

In another, from 1933, Smith speaks of "colored children" dreaming of "great big watermelons."

The Yankees said in a statement that they had "been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information."

"The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously," the statement continued. "And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity."

The Flyers, which had erected a statue honoring the singer, who died in 1986, outside the arena where they play, have since covered it up with a tarp. 

"We have recently become aware that several songs performed by Kate Smith contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization," they said in their own statement. "As we continue to look into this serious matter, we are removing Kate Smith’s recording of 'God Bless America’ from our library and covering up the statue that stands outside of our arena.”

Social media's reaction is mixed, however, with some saying the bans are "PC gone too far."

"God Bless America" was written by the great composer Irving Berlin as a patriotic tribute to the nation. The current controversy does not involve the song's lyrics, only the version that Smith sings.

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