As background, this past April, the lawyer wrote a letter to Clemson University claiming that football coach Dabo Swinney was comingling religion and athletics to the point that you had to “pray to play.” See the five-page bullying complaint here.
“I can’t come to work and not be a Christian. It’s just the reality of it,” said Swinney, who says he doesn’t make football decisions based on players’ participation in religious activities.
“I have great respect for other people’s faiths and beliefs and all that,” he added. “It’s not my job to judge people. I just am who I am.”
Football and religion is not uncommon.
In Durham, Duke prays before each game and at every practice.
Over in Chapel Hill, UNC coach Larry Fedora is very open about his Christianity.
“It’s extremely important in my life. There’s no doubt about it – I don’t try to hide it,” Fedora said. “I don’t try to hide it in the program either. I really believe when these players come to Carolina, my responsibility is to see them grow academically, socially and spiritually.”
He said that he’s not pushing anything on them but instead is providing an atmosphere that if they want to grow spiritually they can.
The team prays together on occasion, and certainly before and after every game. “We don’t ask for a win,” Fedora said with a laugh. “We ask to keep guys healthy and safe.”
The Tar Heels have a year-round team chaplain, Mitch Mason, who is with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “He does a great job being there for our young men as a mentor, as an ear and as just a friend,” Fedora said. He’s at all the workouts and he has a relationship with all the guys. They can go to his office and talk to him about any problems they are having.”
Fedora says that’s a great thing. Like with Swinney at Clemson, you probably won’t see any changes at Carolina as long as Fedora is there, no matter how many letters the Freedom From Religion Foundation writes.