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Coach stops team prayer after organization complains. Now is everybody happy?

Toledo Rockets head coach Matt Campbell, right, talks to wide receiver Alonzo Russell (9) at halftime of an NCAA college football game against the Missouri Tigers in Toledo, Ohio, Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014. Missouri won 49-24.
Toledo Rockets head coach Matt Campbell, right, talks to wide receiver Alonzo Russell (9) at halftime of an NCAA college football game against the Missouri Tigers in Toledo, Ohio, Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014. Missouri won 49-24.
David Richard, Associated Press

When Jerry Sloan was coaching the Utah Jazz, it wasn’t unheard of to see people squirming in their front-row seats. They weren’t fans who attended on a nightly basis, but guests who had scored single-game tickets through work or friends.

They seemed excited to be so close to the action…right up until the game began. Then it was welcome to Jerry’s World. His game-day language could flash-fry a steak.

Discomfort over coaching styles was in the news this week, but for entirely different reasons than salty language. University of Toledo football coach Matt Campbell announced he will no longer lead his team in prayer prior to games, due to a complaint lodged by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).

Never mind video of the ritual showed a seemingly motivated and unified team as it prepared for a game. According to the Toledo Blade, the FFRF sent a letter to the university, requesting Campbell cease the practice of praying, on grounds he was violating the separation of church and state.

Campbell responded by agreeing to stop. Players can henceforth prepare individually, in their own way. Whereas he once led his team in the Lord’s Prayer, it will now be limited to the Bear Bryant and Knute Rockne kind of addresses.

One can only wonder if the FFRF has heard of predominantly Muslim Fordson High in Michigan, noted for its football team practicing from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. during Ramadan so players can fast during daylight.

Maybe that will be the next issue that gets addressed.

Regardless, the issue has been decided at Toledo. Politically correct operators are standing by.

“Hello, PC Hotline? This is Rebecca. My husband just used the word Patriots while watching a football game, which made me feel uncomfortable. The term seems to imply we think we’re better than other countries. Can you help?”

“Please stay on the line and remain calm, we’ll have someone there in minutes.”

Team rituals have been around as long as the games. BYU has a team prayer before games, which is fine since it’s a private school. But state schools sometimes do, too, such as Southern Utah, which has prayers before gymnastics and volleyball events.

Some stadiums in the South have public prayers before games. That too could make the FFRF nervous, since most college teams play in publicly funded stadiums. It might constitute violation of the law.

Or at least in violation of the FFRF’s sensibilities.

What about scholarship players who cross themselves after scoring touchdowns? Is that too much religion for a public university?

There’s clearly work to be done in other areas, if not by the FFRF, by the PC police. What if someone doesn’t feel OK about the national anthem at games? You know, since we’re a warring nation and all. Will the PC police stop that? I’m guessing eventually they will. You wouldn’t want to make someone sit through a song they don’t endorse.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham plays classic rock during practices. So if the offensive guard doesn’t like rock and roll, should that be eliminated? If not a legal issue, it might be an issue of consideration for others. But which others?

I imagine at some point everything will be banned for some reason, legal or otherwise. A coach won’t be able to tell a player to lose weight because that would be fat shaming. Next will come “fan shaming.” You won’t be able to say anything negative about the other team because it might make someone feel diminished.

At any rate, the anti-religion people won the Toledo case. It’s hard to imagine where these things will end. The team prayer ban will likely diminish some of the unity on the Toledo football team. But at least nobody will feel put upon — except those who actually wanted to pray together.

On the bright side, maybe someday an organization called the Freedom From The Freedom From Religion Foundation will arise.

I’d be totally comfortable with that.

Email: rock@desnews.com; Twitter: @therockmonster; Blog: Rockmonster Unplugged