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It's become as cliche as going to Disney World ...

Saturday, September 08, 2007
"Alright, gentleman, let's pray. Heavenly Father, thanks first and foremost [...]"

And so begins the ESPN video article on Division I-A football's newest member, Western Kentucky.

Before I begin my entry, I want to precede it by disclosing here and now that I was born and raised Roman Catholic. At the same time, however, my upbringing was highly liberal and open to a variety of lifestyles, in large part because of my own family, as well as how much I traveled as a teenager.

With that out of the way, I think most of you can assume that this entry isn't going to be related to hockey, per se. It's also not going to be directly related to any other specific sport either, though. The focus of this entry is religion in sports, and how much I, personally, wish it would take a hike.

Playing sports from elementary school to high school, I can definitely say I consider myself fortunate that none of the coaches I ever had tried to impose upon me the need to pray before, during, or after games. No holding hands in a circle, shutting our eyes, and quietly "thinking" (see: praying), either. The focus of the team was on, pure and simple, the game. Not on asking God, Vishnu, Loki, Zeus, or whatever deity you believe in to help me "find the strength to win."

To me, forcing a team to pray together is tantamount to forcing a certain belief on them. The moment the team's coach, or even a lead player on that team, make any sort of reference to some sort of heavenly being, you are tempting the possibility that not every one you play alongside, or coach, has the same beliefs as you. Yet you leave them in an awkward position; one where if they try to say something, they could very well be frowned upon by the rest of the team or subjected to unfair judgment. And considering that most people in an American locker room setting will believe in some form of Christianity, it's a reasonable thing to consider happening.

Now, before any one makes any presumptions, I have no qualm with players or coaches praying, or doing whatever they want, in the confines of their own personal space, be it an office, a locker room stall, or whatever. And if other players want to join that person in prayer, then they can as well.

But I don't know. Perhaps I'm simply jaded to the use of "God" in sports. We've all seen how in pretty much every sport's championship -- though I admit, I've seen it less in the NHL -- the moment that a team has won and the exuberant star of a team is being interviewed, they like to take a moment to thank God for their success. For their win. For being able to outplay the players on another team who -- ironically -- were probably also considering praying to God, and could have very well done so just before the game.

Ultimately, it feels like such a thing has become cliche. It's become about as common as saying that one is going to Disney World after they've won the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, or whatever other sports trophy in North America you can think of. The sincerity behind saying such a thing seems to have been all but entirely lost, which to me just proves that there is no longer any need for such a thing in sports.

In any event, I had been considering bringing this topic up, after a similar topic was brought up in my History of Sports in America class, when every student had to write an autobiography, and was asked if sports had any religious impact on them, among other impacts (financially, socially, etc.). It wasn't until I saw this clip of Western Kentucky's introduction in to Division 1-A football that I suddenly felt enough of a pull to write about this topic.

All in all, I'm sure this may offend a few people, as I know at least a few fellow bloggers -- some who I do consider friends -- who seem to strongly associate themselves with Christianity. But that happens sometimes when you speak your mind. And honestly, my desire for secularism within the confines of the locker room and the sports field is something I feel very strongly about.

Now if you'll excuse me, I am off to brave the thunderstorm outside, and get a Nintendo Wii.


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About Me

Name: Michael
Home: San Tan Valley, Arizona, United States
About Me: A mid-20s male who feels much too old even before he's 30. Has a degree in Sport Management and after branching out and trying a few other things in the job market, has finally decided to go back to his first love of hockey and hope he can break in with a team, big or small, somehow.
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