Controversy over Praying in High School Sports 

Carly Woodfield, Staff Writer

There are a few things in life that are very important to many people such as religion, sports, politics, and family. All of these things hold a lot of value. They come up daily in conversation and are a crucial part of people’s livelihood. Recently, it has come up that in some schools across the U.S. coaches of high school football teams are getting ridiculed and even fired for praying with students on the field before or after games. 

I believe in the right to freedom of religion, and in the U.S. The Constitution’s first amendment grants everyone the right to freedom of religion. It is important to be able to express your religious faith by prayer or any way you need to. Football coaches have been under fire for simply taking a knee to pray before or after games. 

In one instance of this occurring, the response was not taken lightly by the coach affected. According to Fox News, “Joe Kennedy, who was fired in 2015 after he refused to stop saying prayers on the field while acting as a public school coach, told ‘Fox & Friends’ on Wednesday that he plans to take his case to the Supreme Court after he lost his latest appeal.” Other thoughts by Kennedy were expressed in his interview to Fox saying, “The First Amendment is under attack and somebody’s got to stand up for it.” Additionally Kennedy voiced, “Stand up for your faith and hopefully we won’t have to have anybody else choose between their faith and job.” The controversy of this topic is serious and has not been taken lightly by the people affected who want to stand up for the constitution and their religious beliefs. 

Another controversy on the same topic occurred with a football coach in New Jersey.  According to The New York Times, the event occurred “after being told he could not take part in pregame prayer, Borden, who led the team to a state championship two years ago, quit as football coach.” It is ridiculous that players are losing coaches due to their personal religious beliefs. Further with this event, “Les Steckel, the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, said the decision “championed the freedom for coaches to be positive role models to their athletes by modeling their faith.” In all, coaches choosing to take part or lead in prayer should not be impacting football games when in reality it can be motivational and inspiring to have somebody model their faith. 

In rare instances that prayer between coaches and players could be seen as pushing religion on another is if a coach forcefully made everyone participate in prayer. I believe that nobody should be forced to participate in prayer and should be a choice everybody can decide themselves. In all, in most circumstances that have made headlines, the case it has all been is it’s consensual between coaches and players to engage in prayer with one another. 

Overall with this issue at hand I can see how it can be misunderstood and controversial. Coaches should not force students to join in prayer but it should be a personal decision whether to participate in prayer or not. On the other hand, if controversy arises with prayer at games, it was not an instance where it was forced upon people, and it was truly done by their want to show their faith and express that in prayer, then there should be no issues. Coaches should not be punished, reprimanded, or shamed by simply expressing their religion because it is a right of every American to have freedoms including religion. Hopefully in the future we will see less controversy over religion in high school sports.