Football

NFL Violence and High School Prayers OK With Football Fans

C.J. Anderson (22) and Lawrence Timmons (94) in the AFC Divisional playoff. Image via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY/REUTERS/RNS

For all the headlines about football violence, concussions, and player injuries, watching football is not a “guilty pleasure” for many Americans. It’s just a pleasure, a new survey finds. The Public Religion Research Institute/Religion News Service survey, released Jan. 28, also found overwhelming support for “allowing football coaches at public high schools to lead their players in specifically Christian prayer during games.”

Packers' Aaron Rodgers Denounces Anti-Muslim Fan Who Tried to Ruin Moment of Silence

Image via Benny Sieu / USA TODAY Sports / RNS

Teams around the NFL paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks in France last week with a moment of silence before Sunday’s games.

At Lambeau Field, before the Green Bay Packers lost to the Detroit Lions 18-16, a fan shouted out a slur against Muslims during the moment of silence.

That did not sit well with Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who called out the fan in his postgame comments.

Why My Family Has an Anti-NFL Policy

David Lee / Shutterstock
David Lee / Shutterstock 

BASEBALL USED to be our national pastime. But now professional football is America’s game. And why not? It’s a violent, capital-intensive spectacle carried on with reckless disregard for human health and safety. Kind of like our foreign policy, or our criminal justice system.

Last fall, 45 of the 50 most-watched TV shows were National Football League games. It is the most profitable of the major sports. The average NFL franchise brings in $286 million per year, compared to $237 million for Major League Baseball—despite baseball’s 162-game regular season vs. football’s 16.

This year the TV audiences for football are expected to grow, and NFL total revenue is expected to top $12 billion. Nothing seems to put a dent in the U.S. enthusiasm for the game. Some coaches have offered cash rewards for the injury of opposing players. Multiple players face charges for violent crimes. The Patriots cheat in the playoffs. And the game just gets more popular.

Maybe that will change this Christmas when the movie Concussion, featuring Will Smith and Alec Baldwin, is scheduled to be released by Sony Pictures. Concussion tells the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the Pittsburgh forensic pathologist who discovered the decisive link between repeated minor head trauma—such as from huge men crashing into each other dozens of times a day—and the bewildering array of mental illnesses that afflicts many NFL retirees.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

With ‘Woodlawn,’ Christian Films Enter New Playing Field

Image courtesy Alan Markfield/RNS.

Never underestimate the power of pigskin and prayer. 

When the government mandated that Woodlawn High School desegregate in 1973, riots and cross burnings ignited Birmingham, Ala. But after a chaplain visited the high-school football team, future Miami Dolphins running back Tony Nathan and more than 40 of his black and white teammates chose to dedicate their lives to God: praying together at practice, meeting for Bible study after school, and ultimately helping to unite the town. 

As Birmingham natives, faith-based filmmakers Jon and Andrew Erwin were inspired to bring the true story to the screen in Woodlawn (in theaters Oct. 16), starring Jon Voight, Sean Astin, and Caleb Castille. 

"It was an anomaly event where an entire football team at once made a decision to love God and to love each other, in a school and a city that didn’t know what that meant,” says Jon Erwin. 

“Faith was an absolutely essential part of this story. It wasn’t politicians that led the Civil Rights Movement, it was pastors.” 

School District Investigates Mass Baptism Filmed at Football Practice

Image via  / Shutterstock

A Georgia school district is investigating after video of a mass baptism was posted on YouTube.

The video, posted by First Baptist Villa Rica, was shot on school grounds just before football practice.

“We had the privilege of baptizing a bunch of football players and a coach on the field of Villa Rica High School! We did this right before practice! Take a look and see how God is STILL in our schools!” the caption with the video reads.

Arian Foster: Can You Be an Atheist in the NFL?

REUTERS / Tim Sharp / RNS
Houston Texans running back Arian Foster celebrates after scoring a touchdown. Photo REUTERS / Tim Sharp / RNS

Professional football isn’t known for being a place that encourages deep intellectual reflection. With its history of silence on head injuries, locker-room harassment, and macho culture, the NFL would be the last place you would expect to find a philosopher and a poet — and an atheist to boot.

But all of those things come together in Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, who is the subject of a feature in ESPN The Magazine’s Aug. 18 College Football Preview Issue, published late last week. He revealed that he didn’t believe in God. That’s unusual in a league where players regularly point to the sky (never mind the questionable theology behind the assumption that heaven is somewhere up in the sky) and meet for regular Bible studies.

'Deflategate' and How Not to Scapegoat Tom Brady

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
Tom Brady playing with the New England Patriots against the Dallas Cowboys in 2011. Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

This isn’t just about Tom Brady. As much as I may hate the guy, he and I have some things in common. Rhoden is pointing to a crisis that all humans face. No matter how successful we appear, we all face the same existential lack of being. I can have all the success and money in the world, but I will still feel an emptiness in my soul.

Why do we experience this lack of being? Because we are constantly comparing ourselves with others. This comparison leads us to believe that we aren’t enough, that we lack something within ourselves, and so we try to obtain something that will fill the void within our soul.

Not A Game

Football field. Photo via winui / Shutterstock.com

In a few days, Americans will gather across the country to watch the Super Bowl.

But what many of them don’t know is what happens outside of the stadium—a seedy underworld that profits off the sale of American children.

Every year, approximately 100,000 children are forced into prostitution in the United States—and many are illegally “bused in” to locations hosting major sporting events like the Super Bowl. Once the game is over, victims are relocated to the next profitable event.

The trafficking of our kids is not a game.

I can tell you firsthand that homeless children—desperate for food, shelter, and comfort—are the biggest victims of this horrific industry. At Covenant House, we’ve seen too many of these innocent children come through our doors.

I can also tell you that no homeless kid sells his or her body by choice. In a survey we conducted with Fordham University, almost 25 percent of homeless kids were either victims of trafficking or felt they needed to trade sex in order to survive.

ALL of them greatly regretted having to trade their bodies—a trauma that can haunt them for the rest of their lives.

We are doing everything we can to help these victims, as well as ensure that homeless kids who are at risk of becoming victims never fall prey to this vile industry.

Weekly Wrap 9.19.14: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. In Record Turnout, Demographics Shape Scotland's Emphatic No Vote
National Geographic has a recap (and stunning photos) of yesterday's vote: "Tomorrow a new campaign—for reconciliation—will begin. The referendum opened up deep, sometimes venomous, class and regional divisions."

2. WATCH: It’s On Us 
Today, the White House announced its nationwide public service campaign to prevent and respond to sexual assault on campuses. Watch and share.

3. Together We Make Football
“Football encourages some deep tremor of romance about what it means to be a man. ...Save for the military — with which it has a symbiotic relationship — the NFL is the biggest and strongest exponent of American masculinity. And integral to that notion of American masculinity is violence.”

4. Confessions of a Military Skeptic
"Do we believe that everything will be fine after we kill the last Islamic State militant?" Thomas Reese, on being neither military hawk nor pacifist in regards to ISIS, for National Catholic Reporter.

Pages

Subscribe