Student opinion – Rejecting cancel culture for athletes

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of athletes’ taking a stand for their religious beliefs in their sports. While some view this as a courageous act of conviction, others see it as an unwelcome intrusion of religion in the world of sports. 

The controversy surrounding this topic has only increased over time, with cancel culture playing a significant role in the debate. In 2011, The New York Times wrote an article on an NFL quarterback who was going to great lengths to express his faith. That quarterback was Tim Tebow, and The New York Times quoted him as a “Champion for Christianity” but went on to explain that people didn’t want football and religion to get mixed up. This tension between sports and religion continues to show itself.

More recently, the Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote a letter to the University of Colorado objecting to the newly hired football Coach Deion Sanders — an outspoken Christian — objecting to his prayers with athletes during practices.   

Many people support athletes who stand for their religious beliefs in their sports. According to a study conducted by Summit Ministries, 66% of Americans approve and respect a person who maintains their religious convictions despite cultural pressure and cancel culture. These individuals argue that athletes should be free to express their beliefs without fear of reprisal, just like anyone else. Furthermore, they point out that religious expression is a fundamental right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. As such, athletes who choose to express their religious beliefs in their sports are simply exercising their constitutional, God-given rights. However, there are also those who oppose athletes’ taking a stand for their religious beliefs. Some argue that sports should be a neutral space where individuals are judged solely on their athletic ability rather than their religion. 

Others worry that athletes who use their platform to express their religious beliefs may be seen as forcing their beliefs on others, which could lead to division and intolerance.

This form of cancel culture adds fuel to the fire. Cancel culture is the practice of calling out individuals or groups who express opinions or beliefs that are deemed offensive or controversial, with the goal of ostracizing or “canceling” them. In the context of athletes’ taking a stand for their religious beliefs in their sports, cancel culture can be particularly problematic. 

Athletes who express their religious beliefs may be accused of being “intolerant” or “insensitive” to those who hold different beliefs. As a result, they may face criticism, harassment or even career repercussions, like Tebow. A good example is the attempted removal of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes from schools and universities.  FCA is a world-renowned Christian organization helping coaches and athletes stand up for the word of God and allowing them to spread the gospel. According to Outsports, the FCA has caused enough controversy to get cancel culture’s attention by “targeting” the LGBTQ+ community, even though this organization and its members are just expressing their Christian faith on a day-to-day basis with no agenda other than to glorify the Lord. 

I think that the Founding Fathers fought hard for the generations to be able to express their religious beliefs. Society needs bold men and women who are willing to stand up for their religious and moral beliefs to tell others about the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ. 

While in no way, shape or form is it right to force a religion of any kind on anyone, it is not right to shut people up just because they simply feel the need to give thanks to God. Whether an athlete or politician, Muslim or Christian, everyone should have the right to be able to express their religious beliefs in public. 

Diaz is an opinion writer for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on Twitter

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