Before a game during the 2012 season against Bowling Green, Toledo (like virtually every other program around the nation have done) attached a GoPro camera to a player’s helmet to capture the pregame routine and game day atmosphere at the Glass Bowl, where the Rockets call home.
Among various other experiences, the camera captured the pregame prayer that head coach Matt Campbell would lead the team in before heading to the field. The video was later posted to YouTube, which led to a complaint (two and a half years later) from the Freedom From Religion Foundation stating that they believed the school committed a constitutional violation.
This may sound familiar, so before you ask – yes, this is the same organization that went after Dabo Swinney at Clemson last April and accused the program of being “too religious”.
At Toledo, the organization claimed that the pregame Lord’s prayer ritual was “a serious and flagrant violation of the First Amendment” and asked that UT stop future team wide prayers, according to the Toledo Blade.
That complaint lead coach Campbell to release a statement saying that Toledo players will now determine individually how they will prepare for games in future. In the statement, Campbell never specifically says that the team won’t pray, but instead states that players will prepare for games on their own.
“To ensure UT football continues to bring people together, players will determine on their own any personal preparation methods to help them mentally prepare to play the game we love,” Campbell states in the release.
“I won’t change my values or who I am,” Campbell added. “I’m so proud of the positive choices our student-athletes make to represent the University, the Toledo community, and the Rocket Nation around the globe. And I know this community is also proud of our team.”
As ridiculous as that sounds to some, that’s the world that we live in today, so if you lead a prayer of any kind before, during, or after a game, this is clearly something that you should be aware of.
Here’s the video that prompted the complaint.