The Philadelphia Flyers removed a statue of Kate Smith from outside Wells Fargo Center. The franchise previously covered the statue and said it will no longer play Smith's rendition of "God Bless America." File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo
April 21 (UPI) -- The Philadelphia Flyers removed the statue of the late Kate Smith from outside their arena, the team announced Sunday.
The Flyers also said they would no longer play Smith's rendition of God Bless America at games. Philadelphia's decision follows the New York Yankees' choice to suspend the use of Smith's version of the song during the seventh-inning stretch while the organization investigates allegations of racism against the singer, according to the New York Daily News.
"The Flyers have enjoyed a long and popular relationship with 'God Bless America,' as performed by the late Kate Smith, a woman who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for her patriotic contributuions to our nation," the Flyers said in a statement. "But in recent days, we learned that several of the songs Kate Smith performed in the 1930s include lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes."
The Flyers previously announced Friday that they would stop playing Smith's recording and covered up the statue outside Wells Fargo Center before ultimately removing it. Smith sang God Bless America before Flyers games in the 1970s, and the team considered her live performance of the song before Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup final to be good luck. Philadelphia defeated Boston in the game to win its first Stanley Cup title.
"The NHL principle 'Hockey is for Everyone' is at the heart of everything the Flyers stand for," Flyers president Paul Holmgren said. "As a result, we cannot stand idle while material from another era gets in the way of who we are today."
The Flyers played Smith's version of the song before playoff games, but stopped doing so in 2016. Smith died in 1986 at the age of 79.