Maybe football really is a religion

By Marisa Martin

football on grass

Colin Kaepernick’s rejection of the flag in 2016 was like the first stage of a hydrogen bomb; explosive elements of race, politics, and patriotism were packed into place and about to make a raging fireball. But why is the fallout still so dense and acrimonious?

Miles of opinion columns covered the surprising divisiveness over an athlete’s body position during the national anthem. Is it a noble gesture over race inequality, a flat rejection of America, or a symbol of our fractious political mood? Most likely, Kaepernick and his mates are just prima donnas with giant shoulder pads. Regardless of their motives, the reaction of the country is showing us a few things about ourselves.

Most of us feel dissing dead soldiers is at least peevish and ungrateful. But for those who live for football, this was another 9/11, an assault on things they hold virtuous and dear. And why so great a WTH? Because football has bumped church and synagogue off the calendar for many a man, and in almost every way. Adulation of football in America (and football/soccer in Europe) easily qualifies as a form of worship, at least in its outward form.

Part of "Football religion" series, Yaya Touré by David Flanagan

Part of “Football religion” series, Yaya Touré by David Flanagan

Let us count the ways. The “Star Spangled Banner” is the processional – sometimes even with organ. Masses unite against good (their team) and rage against evil (the other). There is no sermon, yet a constant conversation flows from moderator-philosophers, and sports writers deeply ponder the actions of athletes for months after. Offerings of gratitude flow not only from expensive tickets, but are subsidized by cities and states. They build grand cathedrals (stadiums) Click to see the original article