September. I. Love. September. This is, without a doubt, my favorite time of the year in Colorado. There is continued beautiful sunshine to bask in, a little bit of crisp air in the morning and night (great sleeping-with-the-window-open weather), vibrant colors filling our senses, Oktoberfest, back to school, and...football.
This fall will be different for me, though. While I still will be filled with pride each Saturday watching my Alma Mater play in Boulder, wearing the black and gold, Saturday is where football season will stay for me. That is because I have decided to boycott the NFL this season. For me, this means no interaction with the NFL of any kind-no tuning into games, no fantasy football, no sporting Broncos gear. Make no mistake, this is tough for me. I like the Broncos, sure; but, I love football. I always have and always will. There is just something about the camaraderie through the physicality that is unlike anything else. Having played multiple sports growing up, there is no feeling like being in the midst of battle on the gridiron with your teammates.
I am boycotting the NFL in support of and solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. I’m sure you remember Kaepernick, the young man who refused to stand during the national anthem last season, as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick explained his reasoning last season for his actions: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder." As a result of this peaceful, disciplined protest, Kaepernick has been the subject of ridicule and anger from some fans and team executives. Despite having led the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl 47, Kaepernick has been ostracized from the league, receiving no offers to play for a team this season.
Agree with him or not, isn’t this his right as an American, guaranteed by our Constitution?
I personally have tremendous respect for what Colin Kaepernick has demonstrated. He has used his platform and responsibility as a public figure to protest, bring awareness and advocate for his beliefs and for others. Why are more players not doing the same thing, especially the stars? Tom Brady is silent on this issue. Drew Brees is silent on this issue. Von Miller is silent on this issue. Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr have recently made headlines in their support of teammates who have taken on Kaepernick’s legacy. But, these actions of support are too few and too far between.
I believe that these stars have a responsibility to do what is right in their hearts; but, so do we, as Christians. I have been thinking about what it looks like for me to be a Christian in today’s culture. What I always come back to is our pledge in our baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of every human being. Racial injustice is a part of our nation’s history and also part of its current life-Charlottesville, Philando Castile, Dallas, Trayvon Martin, Baton Rouge, Tamir Rice.... Racial injustice takes us, as God’s people, away from what we are called to live in-beloved community.
The Episcopal Church has launched Becoming Beloved Community, a long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation and justice. “Becoming Beloved Community represents not so much a set of programs as a journey, a set of interrelated commitments around which Episcopalians may organize our many efforts to respond to racial injustice and grow a community of reconcilers, justice-makers, and healers...There is no single path for every person or even every Episcopalian. People will draw on different resources and experiences and come to diverse answers to similar questions.” (Becoming Beloved Community, episcopalchurch.org)
So, instead of immersing myself in football on Sundays this season, I will be devoting my Sundays to two things: family and becoming beloved community. Sundays are usually reserved for family time in my household. However, my practice this NFL season opens a door of conversation for my family of what it means to be a Christian in today’s culture. I will also be dedicating myself to learning how we can move along this journey of commitment that we are called to walk on. First up for me will be reading “Where Do We Go from Here? Chaos or Community?” by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This expression of faith in action that I am taking this NFL season is my journey. As no two journeys are alike, I invite you to begin (or continue) your own journey of faith in action. Next Sunday, September 17, Holy Comforter will be gathering at 6pm in Maglaras Hall to discuss questions of faith, culture, community and our vision for the future. I will definitely be there to take another step towards all of us becoming beloved community. It is my responsibility.