NFL talks go religious

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

Matt's Take:

It's not uncommon to see football players motion the shape of a cross on their chest before a game or circle up afterwards to pray. It's not uncommon to see a player drop to a knee after scoring a touchdown or point to the sky.

The majority of folks have accepted that religion is part of the game. We don't think twice about it.

Religion isn't something that's discussed by NFL writers very often. As sad as it may be, it only seems to be a topic of conversation when the networks talk about Tim Tebow, who is quick to discuss his faith.

Now they have more reason to talk, as Houston Texans running back Arian Foster has publicly acknowledged he is an atheist. Foster may be one of the first professional athletes to wave this flag. This is huge.

According to a study from the Pew Research Center, “Atheists, agnostics and religiously unaffiliated people will increase in the United States (from 16 percent to 26 percent) but decline as a share of the total worldwide population.” Less than 4 percent of people in the U.S. identify as atheist.

The easy thing to do is condemn Foster for not being a “believer,” but in today's society more people are embracing/accepting others who may not have the same beliefs.

  But that doesn't mean Foster's admission won't serve as a distraction for his teammates, who will be bombarded with questions about his religious beliefs.

Whether you believe in God or not is your personal choice. For Foster, he chooses not to. Does that make him a bad person? I don't think so.

As a high-profile athlete, this admission should serve as a catapult to further discussion about religion. The more we can talk, the more we can understand.

The more we understand, the better off we are as a person.

Andrew's Take:

Arian Foster is a pioneer.

It's hard to call someone a trailblazer when they're a part of the world's fastest growing belief system, but I understand where he's coming from.

Last week, when Foster admitted that he does not believe in God, it was clear that he's just trying to live as reasonable as possible, just as humans have since before religion existed.

I played high school football, all four years, for a public institution. As a part of that system, I participated in prayer every day. And I'm just starting to realize how wrong that was.

Is this what oppression feels like? After a lifetime of overwhelming opposition, I just accept that my feelings will be suppressed.

That's too strong. I know who I am. It's 2015, and I'm a straight white guy who lives a comfortable life, thanks to the opportunities provided by my attentive middle-class family.

But I'm starting to realize that I approach a pillar of society in a passive way. It just took an authentic confession from a star athlete for me to reach this recognition.

I am not religious. I'm sorry if that somehow offends any family or friends, but I would hope that a person who tries to live a “good” life could be respected for doing so in a way that is most affective. I know that I can do the most good by “believing” in what I can see.

At first glance it seems that Foster's confession is overdue, but you have to understand that his community (football) is overwhelmingly God fearing. This took guts, and I really hope his words are met with respect.

There's no right or wrong in belief systems, or lack-there-of, as long as you approach the world in a kind manner.

This is a sports column, but this isn't about picking the right “team” when it comes to denominations. There are two teams on Earth. One is comprised with compassionate people, and the other is made-up by everyone else, many of whom operate under a veil of compassion.