Whew! Finally, a controversy I care nothing about: Sports.
Why get all upset about sports? It’s only a game, you know.
Football, I mean. Football is only a game. Basketball apparently is a national scandal involving widespread corruption by sportswear manufacturers, according to the latest news.
Football’s only scandal (besides traumatic brain injury) is players’ kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial injustice. That has everyone upset, because … you know….
Why are people looking at football players during the national anthem? Aren’t they supposed to be looking at the flag? Or trying to follow whoever’s leading the song? Or straining to hit that high note at the opening? (“Oh say can you SEEEEE….”)
Some people are upset athletes are kneeling before football games, and some are upset athletes are not, for an official prayer broadcast over the loudspeaker. That high school custom has been ruled out of constitutional bounds, so people are protesting that, too.
Why people are kneeling could be a quiz. We are kneeling because:
A. We are protesting racial injustice.
B. We are praying in defiance of prohibitions on public prayer.
C. We are protesting a Confederate statue.
D. We are protesting the removal of a Confederate statue.
E. We have a concussion.
F. We blew out a knee.
G. We are next to a fire ant bed and it will swarm if we budge.
H. We are going to throw up.
I. We have a contract with Nike to ensure TV cameras show our new second-generation Vibram jock straps and cups.
All this talk about symbolism’s a fitting backdrop for Roy Moore’s election to the U.S. Senate, because he’s the “Ten Commandments Judge” – ousted from the Alabama Supreme Court for placing a Ten Commandments monument in the state judicial building like an altar in a sanctuary.
The Ten Commandments prohibit idolatry. The U.S. Supreme Court considered that in ruling public schools can’t compel students to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
The students who weren’t standing were Jehovah’s Witnesses, who believed to do so would be to worship a graven image, prohibited in Exodus: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them.”
The court’s ruling was in 1943, only three years after it had ruled the other way, saying students could be forced to stand, or else be disciplined.
It seemed the justices, after two years of fighting German Nazis, Italian fascists and Japanese imperialists in World War II, swung back and said, “Whoa! Remember what we said about forced allegiance to symbols? Forget that. We don’t do that here.”
What they actually wrote was:
“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.
“We think the action of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on their power, and invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control.”
Of course, that just means the government can’t force allegiance to its symbols. Conditions of employment involving private entities may differ. If NFL players have contracts that say they have to stand for the anthem, that’s another matter.
Either way, I’m not going to get all worked up about it. It’s just football, you know. It’s only a game.
Unlike basketball, which allegedly is an insidious nationwide athletic-shoe syndicate.