Colin Kaepernick & Serena Williams – How should sports chaplains respond to these controversies?
In recent days the media machine has gone into hyperdrive as it discusses the Kaepernick Nike sponsorship deal. It seems to be an issue that divides many. Its an opinion fest with all and sundry expressing their views, debating them often as the vehicle for their own previously held beliefs around nationalism, loyalty and racism.
We have after the US Open a similar response – the issues are ‘cheating’, ‘referee bias?’, ‘sexism’. And again the radio airwaves and opinion columns are filled with the rights and wrongs with endless discussions of experts and (frustratingly) many non-experts.
So on which side should chaplaincy fall?
If we did a survey of all chaplains on the worldwide registry I’m confident of one thing…..we wouldn’t all agree! But our role is not to offer opinion but to offer compassion. I’m not sure how much value we can add to the weighty and lengthy discussions, and frankly who are we to comment or judge. But what we can do is look with eyes of love – who is really affected here?
In the US Open I saw a young lady who had just won the US Open. She dreamed of the moment and yet it transformed in minutes into a nightmare. Let us take a moment to consider and pray for her family, supporters and coaches and all those who have contributed to her career. They all will be suffering emotional trauma, how difficult it is to see a dream achieved and yet find it bitter tasting once it is realised.
For Kaepernick what are the ramifications of his career ending, how does it impact his loved ones around him?
Our job as sports chaplains is not to add to the tsunami of opinion, but with to look with eyes of compassion and seek those who are hurting and provide refuge and comfort. To provide HIS care out of the view of the media. The neutrality of a sports chaplain is paramount in our ministry. So on which side should our chaplaincy fall?…..side should never come into it.