Do Iowa State football players need to be converted to the Christian faith?

Athletics are a fine part of the college tradition — students come to our universities, and some of them want to participate in sports, others like to watch, and others like to enjoy a non-academic social event. I think some support for our students’ extracurricular interests is a good idea. What I detest, though, is the overpaid coaches and the tendency to set the small group of college athletes apart as something special, deserving of special consideration. Even at my small university, there is a constellation of special programs to serve the college athletes, and it gets rather annoying that this one group with no unique academic ability is granted privileges other groups do not receive.

UMM isn’t too bad in this regard, but then we’re small and everything is on a tight budget. Larger universities are more prone to excesses and waste and the promotion of a separate tier of students (I attended the University of Washington; the football team members were treated as small gods there). Now look at our neighbor to the south, though: Iowa State University hired a Baptist chaplain to minister to the football team. This was opposed by 130 of the faculty, who signed a petition asking that sectarian counseling not be given this privileged access to students, but the coach seemed to take it for granted that he could add another lackey to his retinue.

Much like we have offered our student-athletes access to drug and alcohol counselors, sports psychologists, nutritionists, hypnotists, physical therapists, learning specialists, chiropractors, physicians, etc., we are now going to also provide access to a spiritual advisor.

Well, the chaplain would fit right in with the hypnotists and chiropractors. But I read that litany and wonder why the football team gets such special treatment over other, apparently less important students.

But that’s a different question. The issue here is whether it is appropriate to bring on a Baptist minister as a full-time chaplain to the team. It looks like there are two tiers of privilege: if you’re on the football team, you are a big man on campus, but if you’re a Protestant ball player, you are exalted beyond that. It’s also not exactly clear what this person would do: pray for victory? Lead the team in prayers? Reassure everyone that god really loved Iowa State? It’s a pretty damned useless sinecure.

Except we know one thing this chaplain would do: as a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, his job was to “use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ”. He was a professional proselytizer brought on to evangelize a narrow faith to the football team. The coach basically hired a local shaman to convert a subset of ISU students to his faith.

This chaplain has revealed all in a talk to the FCA titled “Overcoming Adversity”. What adversity, you might ask? His. The entire half hour talk is about he was so oppressed because so many people, including that wicked atheist Hector Avalos, opposed granting him this ride on the gravy train.

Notice that one of his mechanisms to “overcome adversity” was to simply lie about his motivations and purpose in the job.

Kevin Lykins is no longer employed at ISU, but he set a precedent and there is now an empty slot for a chaplain to the football team, and there is push to fill it with yet another useless bozo. I hope ISU alumni will write in and protest — this is an entirely inappropriate attempt to couple an extracurricular activity to sectarian religious belief.

Oh, look. One of the local radio stations has a poll on the issue.

Are You in Favor of College Football Teams Having a Life Skills Assistant/Chaplain?

60.53 %
39.47 %

The video has been abruptly yanked — I wonder why? — but it has been captured and if you really, really want to watch it, you can download it here. I don’t recommend it. It’s incredibly boring, consisting of nothing but self-righteous evangelical babble, but if you really want to see what kind of tedious tool Kevin Lykins is, you can.