Coach Kennedy seems to be a nice guy, but his argument that his prayers following Bremerton High School football games were private and personal is hard to believe given that he always took a knee at the 50-yard line.
He says he never coerced his players to join in, and that none had ever said they had been coerced, though there’s no doubt his charges, seeing their coach behave thus so publicly, felt at least a smidgeon of pressure to continue in his good graces or to curry favor with him.
That he is a professed Christian probably played into the fact that for eight years apparently no one said a thing about his postgame habit pro or con, Christianity being the professed religion of 65 percent of the adults in this country. “Imagine if the coach had been a Black Muslim and had set out a prayer mat facing east after the games,” I said to my colleague Russell Bennet.
“Imagine a Black coach!” Russell said.
Anyway, I’m not quite sure what divine unction has to do with football to begin with, it being pretty much of a brutal — although admittedly riveting — sport, one that encourages submission to the authority wielded by its coaches. If Coach Kennedy had been asking God to forgive him for putting young men’s synapses at risk, I might be more understanding. Instead, he was apparently asking the Almighty to bless young warriors, which is no surprise, I guess, when you consider that Bremerton’s mascot is a knight who carries “the sword of justice” and wears “the cape of truth.” (I am reminded in this respect of what my brother-in-law said about the Supreme Court’s recent decisions having returned us to “the Dark Ages.”)
My thought — though probably rendered moot by the recent 6-3 Supreme Court decision in Coach Kennedy’s favor — is that religion and attendant proselytizing, however unintended, should be left at the schoolhouse door.