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Air Force Academy looking into football team's pre-game prayer rituals

Air Force prayer

We've had numerous examples this season of high school authorities investigating game-day prayer rituals by football teams, but none in college. Until now.

According to the Air Force Times, the Air Force Academy is reviewing the Falcons' football team pre-game prayers after complaints arose from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

"The Air Force Academy Inspector General opened a third-party complaint and referred the issue to the athletic department for an informal inquiry," Air Force Academy spokesman Warthen told the paper. "Friday morning we received an opposing viewpoint requesting cadets continue to be afforded the right to pray. Thus, we are being prudent and deliberate in our review of this issue."

"This end zone praying is just another territorial conquest of the religious Christian right," MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein said. "This stands in a long line of conservative Christian acts like this."

The MRFF says it represents 144 cadets, faculty and staff -- including five football players -- who expressed a lack of confidence in the Academy's ability to investigate itself.

"Allowing the Air Force Academy to investigate itself — this is simply the fox investigating the hen house," Weinstein said. "We expect that we'll get nothing positive out of this and we'll continue to take a look at whether our clients could possibly get 'John' and 'Jane Doe' protections to go into federal court to seek an injunction."

The complaint first arose following the Falcons' Nov. 28 game with New Mexico, but it didn't stop the team from praying before the Mountain West Championship on Dec. 5.

I'll admit I have not witnessed Air Force's pre-game prayer tradition this season, but if it's anything like the ritual common to college football -- players leave the tunnel, run the length of the field and, on their own volition without instruction or involvement from the coaching staff, drop to a knee for a moment of private prayer and reflection before a long, violent game -- this inquiry will be the epitome of "much ado about nothing."

Read more here.