Last week FIBA would not allow the Qatari Women’s Basketball team to compete at the Asian Games if they wore their traditional religious head scarves. During a Monday Night Football game, the NFL penalized a Muslim player who knelt in prayer after scoring a touchdown. Sports, which has traditionally taken a leadership role on social issues such as race and sexual orientation, is taking a backseat when it comes to concerns over religious freedom
The Kansas City Chief’s defensive back, Husain Abdulla, was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after he kneeled in Muslim prayer in the end zone after scoring a touchdown in a Monday Night Football Game.
Perhaps the official who threw the flag on the Abdullah play was unfamiliar with Muslim custom. Perhaps it was something else because there are numerous occasions where an NFL Player of Christian faith marks his score with a sign of deference, reflection, or tribute to their higher power without incident.
In other words, Brandon Marshall can get on knees and raise his hands to Jesus after touchdown with no penalty, but Husain Abdullah bows his head to mecca and its fifteen yards.
Abdullah took the high road after the game and said he thought he was penalized for sliding into the prayer, though the head referee cited “falling to the ground on the knees” in announcing the infraction.
The excessive celebration rule in which Abdullah allegedly violated states, that an NFL player is “prohibited from engaging in any celebrations while on the ground.” Prayer is never specifically mentioned, though NFL officials usually take a permissive view towards religious exhibition.
It is now time for NFL officials to take a permissive view towards all exhibitions of prayer, no matter what religion the prayer originates from.