Prayer and Football

Watching or discussing football is not something I’m interested in. I haven’t a clue regarding who’s playing who and I only know the names of (some) teams because they’ve been around a long while.

However, the recent hullabaloo related to football player Colin Kaepernick got me to thinking and I decided to open things up for discussion. If you aren’t familiar with this person or why he’s been a topic of conversation, I suggest you do some research.

Those of you who regularly watch football are no doubt aware of Tim Tebow, a player who is well known for his signature move – dropping to one knee on the field, his head bowed in prayer, his arm resting on his bent knee. These very public actions have made him the darling of the Christian crowd.

Recently, another football player, Colin Kaepernick, performed a similar action. However, in his case, he was severely censured and became the pariah of the Christian movement. He was voted as the “most disliked” player in the NFL. People posted videos of them burning his jerseys. He was called “an embarrassment” and “a traitor”.

Why the different reactions?

Interestingly, according to what I’ve read, Colin is just as devout as Tim. Perhaps even more so as he “advertises” his faith all over his body. Plus, as a demonstration of his religious belief, he frequently provides financial assistance to several charitable organizations.

Yet, the Christian world sees these two individuals through much different lenses. To them, Tebow is kneeling in private prayer while Kaepernick is kneeling in public protest.

For me, the question becomes … if both individuals were down on one knee in what many consider a prayerful position (thus honoring their god), why was one censured while the other was praised as a devoted Christian?

Many in the secular world felt Kaepernick was being disrespectful because he chose to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem, ignoring traditional “etiquette,” which includes:

  • Standing at attention
  • Hand over the heart
  • Removing one’s hat and holding it in the right hand over the left shoulder
  • No eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing (food containers should not be held)

Yet there are hundreds who regularly ignore these practices. Most everyone will stand, but many neglect at least one or more of the other actions. Does anyone point a finger at them? Do presidents publicly censure those who fail to follow protocol?

Prayer is prayer. The reasons for participating in this religious action are many and varied. And the locale and practice for doing same are just as diverse.

Kaepernick had his reasons for what he did just as much as Tebow: he wanted to draw attention to something he believed in. Simply because he chose a different place and time does not make him any less devout or his “cause” any less meaningful. Tebow brought attention to himself on the field, Kaepernick did so in the bench area.

As is so often the case in the Christian world … interpretation is the deciding factor on what’s acceptable and what isn’t. And in this very public incident, this fact has been very much in the forefront.

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32 thoughts on “Prayer and Football

  1. Hey Nan. I see where you said you are not familiar with the issue of Colin Kaepernick. The issue is not a Christian one because here I have provided you with videos of Christian Pastors who support his decision and also is rallying others to support him. You can also find videos online of Christian Pastors who are against him. The sides of this dispute are not drawn on the grounds of religion but politics. I have provided you with some videos below of Pastor/Christians who support him.
    DFW Pastors Support Kaepernick & Attack Jones

    VIDEO | Black Pastors calling for NFL boycott in support of Colin Kaepernick | #BlackOutNFL

    Take A Knee With Two Pastors

    PASTOR PERRY & ROBERT ORR: Back to Africa, Politics, Colin Kaepernick

    I hope this help to give you more information on the issue.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jodi, I never watch videos … for personal reasons. But thanks anyway.

    Yes, it IS a Christian issue. You are correct in that there are some who support his “cause,” but the fact that he “took a knee” in demonstration of his cause is the burr under the saddle for many believers. They will gush over Tebow, yet castigate Kaepernick.

    And while I hate to point it out … those who support him generally consist of black people. As has been the case since tRumpsky took office, there is a deep divide between his white supporters and the black community.

    Personally, I support Kaerpernick, his cause, and his actions. But I’m not a Christian and I’m not prejudiced against black people.

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    • I think you’d find that those who support Kaepernick include most black people but also a great many white people, that is, most liberals. Since the protest is about police brutality, and liberals tend to be sensitive about police brutality and less prone to idolatry about symbols like the flag and anthem (whereas conservatives, aside from some libertarians, are usually the opposite on both points), that’s pretty much what you’d expect.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Interesting that Tebows gesture represents nothing, and Kaepernick represents everyone who truly believes in human fairness. Tebow kneels for himself, while Colin kneeled for me. Anyone who hates Colin for this has a warped sense of judgement. He is right to protest. Tebow parades his faith to the benefit of nothing

    Liked by 5 people

    • And that’s how it was meant. I think it’s a really good insight and one that should make anyone think and rethink how our biases affect our perception.

      To me, the key issue is the uniform. That changes everything. Do the actions undertaken by the individual wearing it represent the agency the uniform represents? If not, then abuse is taking place.

      There’s a reason why we put soldiers in uniform, judges in uniform, police in uniform, priests in uniform, and so on. The uniform is an outer representation of acting on behalf of some other agency, an agency that assumes responsibility for its agents who represent it. The personal has no place until the uniform is removed.

      The same is also true for offices and officers… especially offices that represent the public. Individuals using the power and/or influence of this agency to express or further some personal issue – no matter how righteous the person wants to argue the case may be – is confused about this boundary. Crossing this boundary is always abusing that position, undermining whatever value that uniform represents… whether it be for prayer or protest, politics or personal.

      So the hypocrisy you reveal to indicate bias in our perceptions of the two actions by these two individuals is a clue that we are confused because both are abusing their positions because both are wearing the uniform of the team but both are using it to further their personal agenda. Both actions are unprincipled and both are abusing their positions.

      Liked by 2 people

      • tildeb, I’m confused. I didn’t say anything about “uniforms” in my post … ?? While I do see your overall point related to “abusing their positions because both are wearing the uniform of the team” … and tend to agree with it … I’m puzzled as to you see this as the main point of my post … ??

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        • Your main point was about why the different reactions to the kneeling. This reveals the bias a work and I think this is very perceptive of you and worth thinking about.

          That said, the deeper issue I have raised is that both players are actually in the wrong and how little anyone actually considers or understands why this is the case. That’s what I’ve written about.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Neither Kaepernick or Tebow currently have NFL contracts, right? Tebow is old news at this time.

    I don’t really see the Kaepernick issue as a Christian one, except that SOME Christians who are Trump supporters don’t like him.

    I’m neutral on Kapernick. However from the start of the controversy I always wondered what my dad would have thought. He passed away so he is no longer here to give his opinion. He probably wouldn’t have been a fan.

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  5. Speaking as an outsider, this is an American problem. Why the need to play the national anthem during domestic games? It just doesn’t make sense.

    Players don’t become non-persons by donning a uniform, and where convictions are deeply held, I see no issue in them being expressed respectfully. As I see it both players do that.

    I guess it comes down to what forms of expression are considered “respectful”, and this really depends on context. In a sporting context there should be lots of room for leeway, but what do I know, I’m not American 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • I think the problem is not recognizing the boundary between the personal and the public rather than getting bogged down in individual cases of abuse. According to you, Barry, what you’re suggesting is that the police officer or postal worker or soldier has every right to do the job while in uniform, exercising the authority that comes with these positions, but using personal preferences and personal expressions and personal arbitration and interpretation as their guide in order to remain the individuals they are. This is the confusion: you are not just the individual when acting with the authority of the agency you represent: you are its agent, its officer. One must put aside the individual preferences and agendas when acting as an agent for an empowering agency. When you take up the proscribed duties as an agent, you do so voluntarily. That’s how the public knows to trust institutions: all of us act on behalf of the institutional agency when we represent their authority and not out of some sense of personal power.

      You have interpreted my comment to mean people become non persons when acting in a role but this is not what I said: I said there is deep confusion about there being a boundary created when one acts as a representative of an agency, a boundary that is often ignored or overlooked or rejected. The tax collector doesn’t come after you because of a personal preference; acting as a revenue agent of a tax agency empowered by the state with that authority means that the job comes with the responsibilities and authority of acting on behalf of the agency. Not the personal. As a representative. In other words, it’s not personal when we put aside individuality and don a uniform: it’s a voluntary change from the personal to the representative. And the job – and the authority the office possesses – should not be considered a personal tool, a personal platform, a means to advance personal agendas. That’s abuse of position. As an individual anyone can take these up, of course. But not as representatives of some other agency. Take off the uniform and take up whatever individual stuff you want. But doing so by means of co-opting the agency and the office by any agent or officer is always crossing this boundary. That’s why both Kap and Tebow are abusing their position as players on a football team – representing the teams – to advance personal agendas.

      This is not just an American confusion but a widespread confusion.

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      • You ask Nan re uniforms: “Do the actions undertaken by the individual wearing it represent the agency the uniform represents?” You then answer “If not, then abuse is taking place.” I don’t completely agree. I would argue that abuse is taking place only if the action is understood to represent the agency, but in fact is contrary to the wishes of the agency. And in this regard it makes little difference whether or not a uniform is worn.

        It’s almost impossible to not make personal statements reflecting values or beliefs while representing an agency (whether it’s related to work or sport or otherewise). Your example of a tax collector targeting an individual is irrelevant to the discussion as that is someone abusing their power as an agent of the people (in the case of the US) or the crown (in the case of NZ). The subject of the abuse has their rights infringed upon. No such rights are infringed when a sports-person makes a personal statement about their beliefs or values. As I mentioned, context is important.

        Here’s an example to ponder. In Aotearoa New Zealand, ANZAC day is perhaps the most significant day of the year. In the days leading up to it, almost everyone can be seen wearing a red poppy. This includes people in uniform: police officers, shop assistants, the pizza delivery guy, judges etc, and those not in uniform, but whose job is obvious, such as teachers. It makes no difference whether or not the individual wears a uniform. A few, across all trades and professions, in uniform or not, choose to wear a white poppy instead, which makes a different statement. Some deliberately make a very different statement by not wearing any poppy at all. I’m one of those individuals. Believe me, not wearing a poppy is a statement and you can not escape being asked why you aren’t wearing one if you go out in public. In other words, regardless of whether or not you wear a poppy, or what colour poppy you wear, you’re making a public statement. Regardless of what statement you make, it’s recognised as being a personal expression, regardless of whether or not you are performing a role on behalf of an agency.

        How is what either Kaepernick or Tebow did any different from wearing or not wearing a poppy? How does their action differ from a Sikh wearing a turban at work, or a person wearing a piece of jewellery in the form of a religious symbol, or someone wearing a rainbow badge? I would argue there’s none.

        Consider why the US is an “also ran” when it comes to freedom indexes, and why NZ is at or near the top. Americans might value freedom of expression higher than other countries, but they fail to deliver. The fact that the actions of both players polarise the US so much and your understanding of where freedom of expression is appropriate are indicative of why America performs poorly in the freedom stakes.

        Our Bill of Rights states in part: “everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form” (emphasis, mine). Is that not what the players were doing?

        Liked by 3 people

  6. Bunch of twats, all of them, for a start their game is nowhere near as skilled or as tough as rugby league and they have to wear protective gear😊

    On the kneeling issue, if someone has to pray to a god to win a football game it says a lot for the ability of the team and the individual does it not? And you do not have to show respect to a piece of cloth with colours on it, but it does pay to follow the crowd on these things and not do a self-importance “look at me” protest just because a 100 thousand people are watching you. In America especially, people get wound up and ugly at the drop of a hat and the Christian nuts will find a reason to get nasty as they just love mixing religion and politics to get the results that suit them.

    Liked by 3 people

    • “Bunch of twats, all of them, for a start their game is nowhere near as skilled or as tough as rugby league and they have to wear protective gear😊”
      ‘Spoken’ like a true Aussie. 🙂

      Like

  7. I don’t know whether Kaepernick and his fellow protesters intend their gesture to have any religious significance, but the main purpose of it is to protest police brutality.

    To me the significance of the hostility to the protest is that the fundie/wingnut element doesn’t want black people to have any options at all for expressing discontent. The kneeling protest is an almost textbook case of a legitimate form of freedom of expression. It’s not violent. No one is being hurt, no windows smashed, no traffic blocked. It’s being done in a situation that makes it highly visible, but that’s necessary for a protest to be effective. Yet even this, to the right-wingers, is out of bounds. (So is voting, based on all the gerrymandering, vote-suppression laws, closing of polling places in black areas, etc.) For black people, apparently, the only acceptable option is to shut up and say nothing about their grievances, in any way.

    In most cases I think American liberals are too quick to claim racism in cases where the root causes lie elsewhere, but in this case, the main motive for the hostility against Kaepernick really is racism, not religion.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, Kaepernick’s actions were most definitely a “protest” movement in the eyes of the public … and it’s very possible there was no “religious significance.” I just thought it was interesting that both players used “kneeling” (which is a religious action) to send home their points.

      Of course, racism most definitely enters the picture as well. Unfortunately, it’s something we can’t get away from.

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  8. Oh, and it’s hard to imagine anything sillier than praying about a football game. God didn’t do jack about the Holocaust or the gulag or slavery or the Black Death. But somebody expects him to intervene in a game?

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Before you claim this is a Christian issue, I would like to see a religious survey of people who are on opposite sides of this kerfuffle. I suspect that the prime determinant in any Tebow v. Colin approval rating is race. In church kneeling a a form of respect (and indicating one is less worthy, A POS really). So, Colin K took a different mode of respect and stood out because he wasn’t doing what everyone else was doing. People who didn’t like such uppity behavior reframed the protest from being about police brutality toward people of color and made it about the flag and military (why they didn’t throw in Mom and Apple Pie I do not know). Why a sitting President would comment on such a display I think says more about the person in the office than the Office of President.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh there’s no doubt race enters the picture! I just preferred to focus on the religious aspect since “Christians” often have such conflicting ideas about some things … and I felt this was a good example of that.

      As to Mom and Apple Pie, in the world we’re currently living in, this will no doubt eventually become a point of conflict! 😝

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  10. I kneel down before, during and after football games because my innards are rebelling against the excessive amounts of booze I often drink whilst watching them. Tebow is/was one of the most annoying people I’ve seen. Imagine if an Islamic player put THAT much effort into shoving his “faith” in people’s faces every chance he had. My guess is people in America wouldn’t like it much. In America, it’s a sign of goodness, patriotism and righteousness to shove one’s faith into the faces of others, as long as that faith is *Tru-Christianity* that is. Why? Well, because of all the hundreds of thousands of religions out there to believe in, only *Tru-Christianity* is the “real/true/right/correct” one, and only Jesus H Christ is a “real/true/ undeniably irrefutable” god. See? $Amen$

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Colin Kaepernick is not burning any American flags. Colin Kaepernick is not violently attacking opposing activists. Colin Kaepernick is protesting peacefully, but unfortunately under and at games that for NFL owners who have a HUGE monetary steak in a “brand,” a very, very, VERY wealth-making brand that is also financially connected with Conservative Legislators in Washington, D.C. They are his employers and despite the fact that employees, as private citizens of this nation, have the Constitutional right to protest, especially peacefully like kneeling on one knee!!! Are you kidding me! 😫

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  12. Why not stand up with your forefingers up your nose, hold up a sign, sit cross-legged, lie down or hand stand. These football players are likely to be wanting to identify themselves as Christians first before any of the other issues because kneeling is always associated to religion.

    It will not be long before this becomes an epidemic in America and people will not stand for the national anthem claiming stuff like scientific conspiracies against creationists and flat Earthers.

    My opinion is to do whatever the hell you feel you want to do in public, just like the naked streakers do in sports stadiums with their bits flapping around haphazardly but be prepared to take it in the neck when the abuse is dished out or you get sacked from your overpaid sports job, regardless of the issue.

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  13. This is an interesting angle to look at Kaepernick’s overall goal when he decided to kneel, which I do not think had anything to do with religion. Overall I enjoyed this take on the situation, but I would have to disagree with it, simply because Colin Kaepernick taking a knee had nothing to do with religion and he was not praying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome jskee! Thanks for stopping by and offering your thoughts.

      You’re probably correct, Kaepernick wasn’t actually “praying,” but “taking a knee” is considered a form of prayer and I tend to think many in the ultra-conservative religious crowd were offended by his actions. Not only because of his cause, but they also have this misguided idea that not honoring the flag is a slam against god and country (not to mention veterans, which is a whole ‘nother subject).

      Of course, there are numerous opinions related to this incident. Mine was just one more and designed to make people think outside the box. 🙂

      Like

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