The world is awash in intolerance, hatred, greed and narcissism, so it probably should come as no surprise that such waves would wash up on the shores of sports.
In times of decency we could give short shrift to the tales outlined below. These are not times of decency.
With hatred being given voice on a daily basis via haranguing media shows, with an extreme right wing making up the “truth” as they go and a society that seems bent on focusing on anything except substance, these stories were bound to find the light of day.
A Georgia man has proposed a basketball league composed of “only players that are natural born United States citizens with both parents of the Caucasian race.”
That comes from his press release announcing the league, issued on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day.
He, of course, says there is no hatred or racism involved. What a joke.
Clint Bryant, athletic director at Georgia’s Augusta State University is quoted at Augustachronicle.com: “It’s so absurd, it’s funny, but it gives you an idea of the sickness of our society.”
Once upon a time such an idea would have been laughed off as nonsense. Today, we’ll see how many television show invitations and book offers this (you fill in the blank) gets.
In Egypt, the coach of the national soccer team has decided on some just ducky requirements for those who will make the squad.
He was quoted in Cairo papers this week as saying “pious behavior” was the primary qualification for players. However, not just any pious behavior will do.
The players must observe Islam and if they do not, “We will never select any player regardless of his potential,” said the coach.
For some time, Egypt’s players have been on their knees when they score and kneeling in prayer sessions for wins. Sound familiar?
Oh, but we would never have sports in this country actually come to these ends.
All this praying in the end zone and kneeling on the sidelines and pointing to the heavens as though God actually cares if you hit a home run — how much of that is religious and how much of that is just hate and intolerance?
Whatever it is, it doesn’t belong on sports fields.
The Supreme Court, not the current one obviously, has said the First Amendment does not “guarantee the right to communicate one’s views at all times and places or in any manner that may be desired.”
That same court said, “the character nature and function of the particular forum involved” must be taken in consideration. (452 U.S. 640).
Additionally, we would do well to remember that the First Amendment freedom of religion clause, as written by Thomas Jefferson, came from his Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.
In that act, he wrote as the first maxim of religious freedom that “no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever….”
The first essence of freedom of religion is not to have to believe in anything or be compelled to hear someone else’s beliefs, on a sports field or anywhere else.
A little tolerance then fits right in.