At the last baseball game I attended, the announcer came on at game time, and asked all the gentlemen to remove their hats for the National Anthem. I didn't know whether to be pleased or annoyed. I was pleased that an age old sign of respect was being upheld. I was annoyed that we have come to a point in history where we actually have to be reminded to do so.
Many people today see the removing of a hat as a bygone tradition. They just don't see the point, after all, what's so offensive about a baseball cap? What they don't realize is that in side stepping proper etiquette, they are being offensive. They are also showing disrespect and ignorance. Why? Perhaps learning how this tradition started might help you understand.
The removal of the hat and the handshake originated with medieval Knights. They would lift the visor on their helmet and show their face as a sign of respect, and hold out their empty hand to show they held no weapon. The military salute evolved out of this custom, as did the removal of headgear indoors. Eventually the tradition was passed on to men of all walks of life . . . nobility as well as servants and slaves. After the Dark Ages, manners and etiquette grew to become an essential part of everyday life, and the handshake and the removal of the hat became signs of a civilized culture.
If you refuse to remove your hat out of contempt, much like refusing to shake someone's hand, then fine. You have made a conscious choice to buck society. However, if you don't remove your hat because of ignorance, then it makes you look foolish and uneducated. It would be the same as not knowing what to do when someone held out their hand for you to shake.
Need a refresher on when you should remove your hat? Here are a few guidelines:
A man should remove his hat outdoors (and indoors):
(1) when he is being introduced to someone
(2) while talking with a woman, an elder, or a a person of prominence
(3) while the National Anthem is being played, or your country's Flag is passing
(4) at a funeral, or during the passing of a funeral procession
Indoors, a man should always remove his hat, especially in a home, church, or restaurant except:
(1) in some public places such as airports
(2) In retail stores
(3) while seated at the counter of a diner or cafe
(4) in the foyers of office buildings or hotels
(5) if both hands are busy carrying packages
If in doubt, remove you hat. It is considered a sign of contempt and disrespect to leave your hat on when it would be proper to remove it.