Wednesday, May 18, 2005

This is Why Football Coaches Make the Big Bucks

     Few headlines outside Colorado have made mention of the religious discrimination accusations at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There have been serious claims of religious harrassment at the Academy, including a case where a Jewish cadet was told by his fellow cadets - the men and women he would trust his life to in war - that the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus. There are other instances in which non-Christian cadets were explicitly and implicitly told that there was no room for them in the US Air Force. Enough that the Pentagon in investigating whether this discrimination and harrassment was supported by the administration of the Academy. Even if you believe that it is a Christian's role to spread the gospel, surely you have to recognize how weakened America's military would be if it were fragmented by religion - if Jewish and Muslim and Buddhist and Athiest and Christian soldiers thought of their religious differences before they thought of their national identities. This harrassment extended to the Air Force football team, which is also being investigated.
     This week, Bobby Bowden, the longtime coach of the Florida State Seminoles, spoke to the Southern Colorado Fellowship of Christian Athletes and told them that "The coach has a responsibility to these boys to try to influence their spiritual life..." and "I want my boys to be saved." Now I know why coaches make millions of dollars - part of their job is to get the football players to accept Christ. Private schools may indeed make this mission part of the job description for their coaches. I wouldn't at all be surprised if Notre Dame or Trinity asked their coaches to shill for Christ. But at a public university, all students have a right to be there and to be involved, no matter their religion. If Bobby Bowden wants to preach, he should do it in a place and time where the people he preaches to do not fear his retribution. By having a power position over his players, he bullies them into religion because he can make or break a player's career. It is akin to forcing people to church at knifepoint. Let Bobby preach his religion to people who aren't cowed by him, who see him as an equal, not a boss.
     On a personal note, this revelation absolutely disgusts me. I admired Bowden for his football program while I overlooked the many transgressions of his players. Having heard what he said, I can't help but think of the many scandals his team has faced over the past few decades, including theft and rape and the institutionalized breaking of NCAA rules by his program. Bowden speaks out of the corners of his mouth when he talks about looking after his players. He's not interested in growing them up to be men. He's only interested in winning - in winning games and in winning converts. He couldn't care less about how he does it, and in my eyes, that loses him the rightful title of "coach".

9 comments:

Ben said...

You called it right on Bowdon. I ahve no respect for him as a person, and only a bit of respect as a coach. It's easy to be good if you cheat to get and keep the best players. Anyway, he's pretty much the crowned king of FSU, so he could force all his players to become alter boys, and the fans would cheer him on.

Mainline Mom said...

Good post. I've seen plenty of news about the Air Force Academy charges. I hate to say this, but religious discrimination is everywhere. Not just by Christians either. Christians absolutely get discriminated against too. Doesn't make it right, but it's not surprising to me. I understand 100% Bowden's comment to a Christian organization about wanting his players to be saved. I don't know how much actual preaching he does to them, so I can't comment whether I think it's appropriate or not. But I do think he's an ass and you're right on about his program and he is totally talking out of both sides of his mouth. However, we are ALL hypocrites sometimes so I won't go throwing stones.

Sylvana said...

This guy is an ass. He's the same kind of guy that would use his position of power to threaten a woman working for him into having sex with him. I think there should be religious harassment laws similar to the ones in place for sexual harassment.

Mike said...

First off, I'm not a Bowden. He's not nearly as good a coach as Joe Paterno. But let's assume that Bowdon believes with 100% conviction that he is going to heaven because of his faith in Christ. Fair assumption? Can you blame him for wanting to save others? Many of his players come from disadvantaged backgrounds. I think this would explain a lot of their actions. Many of them have nothing to look forward to unless they are good enough to make the NFL. For many of them, after college they are bound to return to the ghetto where they grew up. If giving them a faith in Christ and principles to live by turns their life around, do you oppose that?

And I don't think it's fair to assume just because he told some Christian organization he wants his boys to be saved that he insists his boys go to church and pray to Jesus. You can influence someone's spiritual life in other ways.

ORF said...

Dude, you totally stole that title from my post!! ;)

Scott said...

Dude, I totally did not! It's just a happy coincidence...

Sylvana said...

Mike, did you miss the line where he says that he feels it's his job to influence their spiritual life? This guy isn't just hoping that they are "saved", he's insisting on it, otherwise he will feel that he is not doing his job. Subscribing to a religion should not be a requirement for a non-religious job.
Plus, you don't have to be from a disadvantaged background to act like an ass- I've seen PLENTY of advantaged, spoiled-rotten brats acting far worse with less of an excuse than the "disadvantaged" youth.

ORF said...

Just bustin your chops, man. Hope you're enjoying the crizzity-cruise :)

Mike said...

Sylvania, so you're saying sharing your faith in Christ is a bad thing? Any Christian will tell you it is their job to influence others. It's not like he says "Pray to Christ or you ride the bench," so lighten up.