Despite a “long and popular relationship” with Kate Smith, the Philadelphia Flyers have cut ties with the late singer and removed her statue from outside their arena.
The move comes as some of Smith’s songs from the 1930s have come under scrutiny in the past week for containing racist language and references.
The New York Yankees have not played Smith’s version of “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch this season after the lyrics were brought to the attention of team officials.
The Flyers followed suit Friday by halting the playing of “God Bless America” on the scoreboard and covering the statue of Smith outside the Wells Fargo Center.
On Sunday, the team issued a statement acknowledging some of the lyrics in Smith’s songs “are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes,” and announcing the statue had been removed.
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“The NHL principle ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ is at the heart of everything the Flyers stand for,” said Flyers President Paul Holmgren. “As a result, we cannot stand idle while material from another era gets in the way of who we are today.”
Smith singing “God Bless America” has long been a good-luck charm of sorts for the Flyers dating back to when the team won the Stanley Cup in 1974.
However, family members of the singer who died in 1986 say they are “heartbroken” over the recent decisions by the Flyers and Yankees.
Smith’s niece, Suzy Andron, told USA TODAY Sports she strongly objected to the characterization of Smith as racist and said she was “saddened that a woman who has been dead for almost 35 years would be attacked in this way.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Philadelphia Flyers take down Kate Smith statue outside arena