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.