Posts Tagged “football”

Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers kneels on the sideline during the anthem prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)This might seem a bit off-topic for my blog, but it’s a sterling example of a common form of irrationality, and as such, is quite relevant. So here goes!

By now most of my readers have heard the controversy about NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who last year aroused the sanctimonious ire of football fans around the country by first sitting, and then kneeling, through the national anthem as it was played prior to the start of games (Archive.Is cached article). It’s not for me to say whether he ought to have done this or not — he said it was to protest the killings of blacks by white cops — but many fans were outraged that he would do something so horribly anti-American. He became a free agent at the end of the year, and now arguably has been blackballed by the NFL because of his protests (cached).

Even so, the guy is an experienced (if far from stellar) quarterback, and since this is such a crucial position, naturally some teams may have to consider signing him.

One of those, at the moment, is the Baltimore Ravens. The team faces a little uncertainty where their “franchise” quarterback, Joe Flacco, is concerned (cached). Thus, the Ravens’ coach and G.M. have considered hiring the “undesirable” Kaepernick (cached); but the team’s owner reportedly doesn’t want him signed (cached).

The Ravens have denied this report, as might be expected (cached).

But let’s be honest: If owner Steve Bisciotti has, in fact, expressed disapproval for Kaepernick’s hire, there’s good reason for it: As CBS Sports reports, the team’s fans are fiercely opposed to the unemployed quarterback (cached):

If the Ravens decide to sign Colin Kaepernick, it’s a decision that might not sit well with their fan base.

According to NFL.com’s Mike Silver, Ravens fans have spent the past 24 hours letting the team know that they don’t want Kaepernick in Baltimore….

If teams are afraid of fan backlash, the the reaction in Baltimore isn’t going to help things. Fans also had a similar reaction in New York. Back in May, Giants co-owner John Mara said that fans in New York threatened to boycott his team if they decided to sign Kaepernick [cached].

The irrationality of Baltimore Ravens fans getting their panties in bunches over the (possible) hiring of Kaepernick becomes obvious, when one considers this is the team that was home to linebacker Ray Lewis for over a decade and a half … much of that time after he’d been present for a double homicide in 2000 (cached). Yes, that’s right: A double homicide! Although he was never convicted of murder or manslaughter, he did plead guilty to obstruction of justice (since he’d lied to investigators), and he settled with survivors of the deceased (cached). Yet, the Ravens and their fans were saddened by his retirement following the 2012 season, and the team sold Ray Lewis tribute shirts at the time (cached). These folk, then, are the ones who can’t tolerate Colin Kaepernick being on their team after his protests. Wonderful people, no? I’d call them “raging hypocrites,” but that might give actual “raging hypocrites” a bad name.

By comparison with Lewis’s involvement in a double homicide, which doesn’t appear to have cost him the adoration of Ravens fans, their anger against the prospect of hiring Kaepernick makes no sense. In fact, the national outrage he kicked up is virtually incomprehensible. Whether or not one agrees with Kaepernick, makes no difference: This is the United States, for fuck’s sake, and he has a right to protest things if he wants to. Protests are not “anti-American.” They are, instead, “pro-American,” because in America, protests are permissible. The US has a very old tradition of protest, which goes back prior to the country’s founding. There’s nothing wrong with any protest in which no one is hurt and nothing is damaged. The same can’t be said of what Ray Lewis had been up to on the night of January 30, 2000 (cached).

Please note, I only mentioned Lewis here because he was a dearly-beloved Raven. The list of other well-loved NFL players who’ve engaged in all sorts of wrongdoing — including criminal offenses — is legion. Few of them stir up the kind of vicious rage that, to date, has prevented Kaepernick from being hired. The best example I can think of is Michael Vick, who appeared unhireable after serving a prison sentence for animal cruelty, and who also faced the nation’s ire … but even he wound up returning to the NFL (cached).

The kind of militant nationalism that has kept Colin Kaepernick from playing football merely because he sat and kneeled through the national anthem is simply bizarre, when compared with the fact that even convicted felons have been embraced by the league. It’s just that simple.

P.S. I’m aware that Kaepernick’s ability is disputable. He had a couple good seasons, but is certainly no star quarterback. Many teams will pass on him simply because they have no place for him, or because they don’t think he will succeed with them. Sometimes a player is just not good enough to stay in the NFL (Tim Tebow, anyone?) I get that. What’s less comprehensible is why the NFL could take back people like Vick — or Baltimore fans could embrace Lewis — when both were guilty of crimes; yet the NFL has virtually blackballed Kaepernick, and Ravens fans are nearly in revolt over him, when all he did was to sit and kneel through the national anthem.

Photo credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images, via CBS Boston.

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Jesus playing football / tackyjulie, via FlickrIt’s well known that Christianists don’t care much for the principle of “separation of church and state.” They dislike anyone placing limits on what they can do to push their dour metaphysics on others. They view such limits as an impermissible suppression of their “freedom of religion” and a form of persecution. The idea that they have license to force their beliefs on everyone by definition necessitates rejecting the idea that anyone else can have “freedom of religion” or — in their minds, worse — “freedom from religion.” As they see it, only they have any “freedom”; all non-Christians must surrender to them, since they have no rights.

This presumption is a special problem in the case of public employees who’re Christianists, because the law prevents them from using their governmental positions to impose their religion on others. A lot of them bristle at such restrictions, even if their basis is in the Constitution and Bill of Rights and can’t just be dismissed because they dislike them. The quick and easy solution for public-employee Christianists, of course, is to resign their governmental positions and take jobs in the private sector that don’t restrict their religiosity. As a rule, though, they refuse to this — largely because they deem themselves to have a “right” to those jobs, even though they won’t carry out their duties lawfully.

The latest example of a militant Christianist who thinks this way is Bremerton (WA) High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy. As KSTU-TV in Salt Lake reports, even after being told to stop leading his student athletes in prayer, Kennedy has continued his practice (WebCite cached article):

As Joe Kennedy knelt to pray at the 50-yard-line Friday night he felt a presence around him.

And it grew.

The assistant football coach at Bremerton High School in Washington state was being joined by some of his opponents and fans — some of whom had come to the game to pray with him.

After the Knights’ homecoming loss to the Centralia Tigers, Kennedy walked to the middle of the football field, hoping to say his usual thanks to God by himself.

He had been told not to do it. The Bremerton School District had said if he prayed while on duty as a coach he would be violating federal law.

Kennedy, as he has done after most games for seven years, prayed anyway, defying the order. He opened his eyes to find a huge crowd of supporters around him.

Yes, folks … not only did Kennedy break the law and defy his superiors’ orders, he had the support of a Christianist community that showed up to “protect” him. The KSTU report is larded up with sentimentality and emotion, for instance explaining that Kennedy “cried as he spoke to reporters.” It also includes mention of an agnostic student who participates in prayers with him. That, of course, defies logic, and suggests this presumed agnostic isn’t any such thing. As if that grants him any particular right to violate the law or disobey his own school district.

The story also explains he has the backing of Liberty Counsel, headed by the Christofascist Mat Staver, who also represents Kim Davis, the now-famous gay-hating clerk of Rowan county KY. Clearly Staver and his cadre of fierce religionists are at war with separation of church and state.

Well, I have news for Kennedy, Staver, and the rest of their supporters at Bremerton High School and everywhere else: What you’re doing is something your own Jesus explicitly forbid you ever to do! That’s right, the founder of your own religion ordered you never to express your piety in public! His clear injunction is found in the gospels:

When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Mt 6:5-6)

It’s not only a violation of the law for a public high school coach to lead his team in prayers in the middle of the field, it’s a violation of the teachings of his own religion to do so! All Christians everywhere ought to reject what this guy is doing … not because it’s against the law (which it is) or because he defied his own superiors (which he did), but because it’s brazenly un-Christian to pray in such a public venue. He shouldn’t want to do that, and his fellow Christians should want him to stop. That assumes, of course, that any of them actually give a fuck about what Jesus taught. For the most part, though, strangely enough, they’ve refused to actually obey his teachings.

Photo credit: tackyjulie, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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InquisitionIt was inevitable, I suppose, that once word came out that President Barack Obama had complimented the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles (WebCite cached article) for having hired Michael Vick after his release from prison for running a dog-fighting operation, the Right would suddenly treat Vick as though he were worse than Hitler or Stalin. It’s the “friend of my enemy is also my enemy” principle in action. It’s natural this would happen, I guess. But the ferocious Rightist Tucker Carlson, however, took that just a few steps too far recently in one of his (many) appearances on Fox News, as AOL Fanhouse reports — and he used Christianity as an oblique justification for it (cached):

“I’m a Christian, I’ve made mistakes myself, I believe fervently in second chances,” Carlson said. “But Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did in a heartless and cruel way. And I think, personally, he should’ve been executed for that.

Now, Vick’s arrest, trial and conviction took place quite a while ago. I can’t find any record of Carlson having weighed in on this matter, before. So I can’t help but conclude that Obama’s comments were the trigger for this call to execute Vick. In fact, Carlson veers close to admitting this overtly:

“[T]he idea that the President of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs? Kind of beyond the pale.”

Here’s video of his comments, courtesy of YouTube:

The bottom line, Gentle Reader, is this: Carlson decided that Michael Vick should have been executed, merely because Barack Obama had something nice to say about him.

Wow. That’s all … just “wow.” The viciousness of that is stunning. Not to mention the idea that people should live or die based solely on the ideological identity of others who happen to say nice things about them.

What a marvelous Christian he is, eh?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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South Africa vs. Mexico: Opening Game World Cup 2010In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last week or so, the 2010 World Cup is being played right now, in South Africa. Outside of the US, soccer is a popular sport, and interest worldwide is high. A couple billion or so people will likely be watching one or more games during the course of this massive tournament. But hyperreligiosity knows no bounds, and a desire to watch a game, cost a man his life, as CBS News reports (WebCite cached article):

A South African man who wanted to watch a World Cup football match instead of a religious program was beaten to death by his family in the northeastern part of the country, police said Thursday.

David Makoeya, a 61-year-old man from the small village of Makweya, Limpopo province, fought with his wife and two children for the remote control on Sunday because he wanted to watch Germany play Australia in the World Cup. The others, however, wanted to watch a gospel show. …

“It appears they banged his head against the wall,” Malefo said. “They phoned the police only after he was badly injured, but by the time the police arrived the man was already dead.”

Soccer fans who live with religious families, had best beware: Your soccer-watching is an evil vice that Jesus disapproves of — apparently — and it could get you killed!

Hat tip: iReligion Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: ER24 EMS (Pty) Ltd.

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