What’s to Like about the Seahawks?


Sehawks Logo

Today the Seattle Seahawks play in the wild card game against the Vikings—in Minnesota, where the weather is sub-zero. I’ll be watching from the comfort of my home, where it’s too warm for hot chocolate.

“Dad, why are you such a big Seahawks fan? Just askin’.” My daughter is well-practiced in asking good questions.

What’s not to like? They’ve won six of their last seven games to win a wild card berth. Two in a row Superbowl appearances in the past two years. (Yeah, I know about the final play, and I still think it may have been a good call from Pete Carroll. But that’s the way fans think, isn’t it?)

Here are the reasons I gave my daughter:

  • Pete Carroll. I’m a USC Trojan. Enough said. Actually, there’s plenty to say. He’s without a doubt a great coach. One who’s fun to play for and fun to watch on the sidelines. A class act. And he has a career trajectory that surprises folks who only know his successes at USC and in Seattle. For example, he coached defensive backs for the Vikings from 1985-1989. And then he was “sacked”. (Legendary Vikings coach, Bud Grant, says Carroll should have been hired as his successor. Easy to say now. I wonder how Zimmer feels about that.)
  • They win games. Everyone likes a winner. Except if you have to play the Seahawks this season. (Was that a sigh of relief whooshing out of Green Bay when they were slated to play the Redskins instead of Seattle?) The Hawks lose games, too. Which is why they’re playing a wild card game against Minnesota. And even though the Vikings are the underdogs at home today, a win will be tough for Seattle, especially in this weather.
  • Team chaplain. My good friend Karl Payne is team chaplain. (“Pro teams still have chaplains?”)
  • The fun factor. The Seahawks are fun to watch. Who can disagree? Yes, other quarterbacks make you perk up and take notice (Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, old man Peyton Manning, and even younger Eli Manning—and I guess you have to include that guy who plays in North Carolina). But you just can’t compare them with Russell Wilson. Am I right? This is only his fourth year in the league! He plays well out of the pocket, both literally and figuratively. Understatement. And did I mention the two Superbowl contests?
  • The aesthetics factor. They have the best-looking home-field Seahawks Helmetjerseys and helmets. Okay, that’s a subjective point. And not the most important point in their favor. But it’s true for me.
  • Fan participation. Seattle knows how to galvanize their fans—collectively known as “the 12th man.” CenturyLink Field is the noisiest in the league. The fans make a difference to games.
  • The Northwest is our home. We don’t live there. But we’re there in spirit. My wife is from Spokane. We both went to university in Washington, we were married there. We could retire there without regret. And we live in sunny California; so that’s saying something.

Naturally, it helps that the Seahawks are winners. But there are plenty of other reasons to like them. And like them a lot.

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Secularist Faith and College Football


There’s an interesting story in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week. It reports on the football program at Clemson University, where the coaching staff is openly Christian. They have prayer meetings for students and baptize those who come to faith.

Apparently, this is controversial.

Anne Laurie Gaylor is co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. She asserts that “a culture of evangelizing on a football team has got to stop.” She adds that a state-funded institution is an inappropriate place for repeated religious messages.

This is ironic and hypocritical. It is ironic because the university exists for the purpose of influencing impressionable young men and women. Ms. Gaylor knows this. It’s what she does when she advocates for “freedom from religion,” and trains her powers of influence on young adults to persuade them to adopt a liberal, religiously pluralistic, and secular, perhaps even atheist, perspective. Her agenda is threatened by the presence of equally vocal religious believers on turf where she and other secularists have staked a claim and are used to getting their way.

Advocacy of a religious point of view or another is not equivalent to “pushing religion” on others, any more than Ms. Gaylor’s secularist advocacy amounts, in principle, to pushing her religion on others. I say “in principle” because her tactics are exclusivist. She has no tolerance for ideological competition. Her basic outlook on life is her own take on religious questions. It defines her religion. And her religious outlook is reflected in her advocacy. Her organization exists principally for advocacy for this religion.

A football program differs from a religious advocacy group like the Freedom from Religion Foundation. A football program prepares young men for leadership through discipline and sport. At Clemson, the leaders of this program happen to be Christians who, exercising their own freedom of conscience, are openly Christian and interested in the souls of their players. The Freedom from Religion Foundation is all about pushing a set of ideas on impressionable students. Their ideas are overtly secularist and anti-Christian. Apart from that, they have nothing to contribute. They do not even advocate for vigorous public discussion and comparison of Christian and non-Christian perspectives, including their own. They do not invite scrutiny of their agenda, nor do they submit their own worldview commitments to examination suited to university life. They are preachers and missionaries. They expect to exercise the freedom that they insist should not be allowed to others in the university world.

Ms. Gaylor herself probably was an impressionable young student at one time; she, too, probably was influenced by people she wished to please. It is likely that she fell under the spell of an ideology that she now seeks to promote, because she thinks that what she believes is true and that others should believe as she does. She has beliefs about what counts as religion, what it means to be free from religion, what it takes to be free from religion, and how freedom from religion can be fostered through her organization. And she expects others to believe this, too. It is peculiar that she expects religious believers like those on the coaching staff at Clemson to agree with her. She claims that what they believe is their own business. But they should not “evangelize.” They should, in other words, keep their faith to themselves, while she and her kin promote a secular agenda in the resulting vacuum. How convenient for her.

Secularists seek enforcement of the privatization of Christian belief. They do this publicly and generally without censure. But Christian belief is compromised when it is privatized. So the effect of Ms. Gaylor’s missionary enterprise would be the privatization of a faith that is essentially interpersonal and the social advancement of a cult of irreligion that she would not keep to herself.

For the article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, click http://chronicle.com/article/With-God-on-Our-Side/143231/?cid=wb&utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en.

 

USC Injects Excitement to End Blasé Contest with UCLA


USC 28, UCLA 7

Malcolm Smith scores on an interception against UCLA

I’m happy with the score . . . and the final play. But that last play, with Matt Barkley throwing long into the end-zone to extend the score, has tongues wagging. Some seem to think that the highly competitive and generally brutal arena of college football should be tempered by sensitivity to opponents when time is running out and the play has been close—especially in a cross-town rivalry as hoary as the one here in Southern California.

Pete Carroll called the right play and Barkley made it happen. The decision needs no defense, but here goes anyway. Read more of this post

Reviews of Football and Philosophy


The book Football and Philosophy: Going Deep (University Press of Kentucky), edited by Mike Austin, is now garnering reviews. Here’s a very favorable review from the Lexington Herald-Leader“Tackling big ideas,” by Chris Collins.

Football and Philosophy: The Book


My friend, Michael Austin, has just announced at his blog that his latest book is now available. This is an edited book called Football and Philosophy: Going Deep (University Press of Kentucky). Congratulations Mike! I’m pleased to have a chapter in the book, titled “Inside the Helmet: What Do Football Players Know?” A look at the list of contributors and the chapter titles has me anxious to get my hands on a copy.

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