Flag Etiquette: How to display the American Flag at sporting events

Most everyone enjoys going to live sporting events or watching them on TV. Competition, food, cheering, and of course, the American Flag. Sports teams and event supervisors are getting creative in the ways that they display Old Glory, especially during the opening ceremony of the event.

But have you noticed that there is a right way and a wrong way to present the U.S. Flag at sporting events? The United States Flag code sets some pretty strict rules about how to properly display the flag indoors and outside. Luckily, they’re simple and easy to follow.

Displaying the flag in an indoor field house or arena

There are a few simple things to keep in mind when setting up the American Flag for permanent display in an indoor arena or field house. We will talk about outdoor American Flag display in a later post.

Flag vs banner

You may have heard the U.S. Flag referred to as a “banner”, but how is that different from calling it a “flag”? 

The differences are all in how the flag is hung. If it is displayed horizontally, it is called a flag. If it is displayed vertically, it is called a banner.

Star field on the left

Whether displayed as a flag or a banner, a most important thing to note is that the union, or star field, is always set at the uppermost and at the flag’s own right, or on the left from the viewer’s perspective

The horizontal flag, as we all know, is shown with the union on the left, but wait! When hung vertically, the union will be on the wrong side . . . the right! So you just need to turn the flag over to display the banner correctly . . . with the union on the left. 

Either way, this can cause issues when hanging a flag or banner from the center of the arena, because it’s a 360-degree venue and one side of the flag or banner will always have the union displayed facing the wrong direction—unless two flags or banners are displayed back-to-back. The best option here might be just to hang the flag or banner against a wall in a prominent area. 

Make sure the American Flag is the most prominent on display

Most sports venues have several banners or flags displayed around the inside of the building. 

When hanging other flags or banners together with the American Flag, the U.S. Flag must be the most prominent. Whether they are championship banners, conference banners, state flags or flags from other countries, they should never be hung higher than the American Flag. 

Flag etiquette applies to the American Flag, not sports team championship banners — so if displayed from a ceiling or wall — the American Flag should certainly be prominent but needn't be to the left of championship banners . . . just to the left of other flags/banners that are not international.

Or, if you are wanting to display the American Flag with your state and/or your school's flag, if the American Flag is larger, then you can flank it with those smaller flags as long as they are positioned lower than the U.S. Flag. That way you don't need to worry about keeping American Flag to the left of the smaller state/school flag(s).

Still, if you are displaying from the center of the arena, you will need to hang two U.S. flags or banners back to back so the star field is in the upper left when viewed from any perspective.

Make the American Flag the star of the show

Large American Flags make a striking impression for any arena or indoor stadium. Imagine a 30 foot by 60 foot large  SunTru Nylon American Flag gracing the home-side wall. Fans cannot help but notice and feel inspired by the patriotism and American pride showcased by their favorite team.


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