At a High School Basketball Game, Students Hold Up Sign Saying Jesus Doesn’t Love the Other Team

Here’s the setup: Patterson High School (a public school) was playing Parkview Baptist School in a division 3A second-round playoff basketball game in Louisiana. Obviously, both teams have a lot of pressure on them and fans on both sides want their schools to win. Lots of energy and tension in the air.

As you might expect, some of the fans from Patterson made signs to support their team. But the one that’s getting all the attention seems to be this one:

Where do you even start with a sign like that…?

  1. How do you not have the judgment to know that’s just a dick move?
  2. Why would you take a picture of that, offering evidence to the world that it was you who made the sign?
  3. Why would Jesus love the public school kids instead of the religious school kids? That makes no sense.
  4. That is waaaaay too many ellipses before “unless.” You need three, maximum.
  5. Really? You’re wearing a shirt that says you “hate” the other school?! You “hate” a school that more or less got randomly paired against you in an athletic event? And you hate them so much you made a shirt just for the event?! Sometimes, teenagers have way too much time on their hands.
  6. Jesus doesn’t love anybody. Jesus can’t love anybody. Jesus is a figment of your imagination.

Oh. That wasn’t the only sign, either:

Ok, so they’re teenagers. Teenagers do dumb things. I’m sure Parkview students aren’t perfect angels, either. But if you’re in a situation like this, the best thing to do is to just support your team instead of tearing down the opposing one.

It doesn’t seem to have worked, anyway. Parkview’s team whooped Patterson 59-42. (Their quarterfinal game is tonight.)

Hats off to Parkview Baptist’s coach Don Green, who really had the best possible response to this whole situation:

Coach Green said he and players from both teams were so focused on the game they didn’t pay any attention to the signs in the stands.

“The conduct from the Patterson players was outstanding.”

Now that he’s seen the signs, he said they may have been a bit out of bounds. But Green doesn’t believe the students meant any harm.

“I don’t believe there was any intent or ill will, just going maybe just a step too far in trying to support the team,”

Green said, had the tables been turned, “We would be very upset by what we did because, again, I can’t tell what’s in someone else’s mind or hearts. But I can certainly tell you what’s in ours and that is not something we would have accepted from our student body.”

Well played at the end there. (Take that, Patterson.)

As for those girls with the signs? The assistant superintendent of the district said they were “disciplined” for what they did — and more power to him. They deserved it.

I’ve seen some commentary online suggesting that any punishment for these signs goes too far, but students represent their school at games like these and school rules still apply. For the school to do nothing would’ve been tacit approval of their actions.

On another note, even if you’re playing a religious school, why bring religion into the picture? If your team doesn’t have the talent to win the game, Jesus sure as hell isn’t going to help them.

It’s kind of like the flip side of the Kountze High School controversy in Texas, where the cheerleaders used signs with Bible verses on them to pump up the football team. Guess what? God didn’t help their team either. After beginning the season with a four game winning streak, they ended with a four game losing streak and a 5-5 overall record.

Nothing for Jesus to brag about.

(Thanks to Randall for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • DougI

    Man, I just hate Parkview right now. Post something if you hate Parkview.

    • decathelite

      I’m breathing. That’s enough.

    • coyotenose

      I love Parkview Baptist.

      wait…

      FUCK!

  • http://twitter.com/Malimar Malimar

    Technically, that’s only two and one third ellipses. Still too many.

  • Daniel Clements

    You need ONE ellipsis.

    • coyotenose

      You might say that teacher… just got schooled.

      • lefty

        yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  • Gus Snarp

    I expect the Jesus loves you one was to make fun of the religious nature of the school they were playing, but even I don’t particularly care for it. There was a controversy here over the chants that a public high school used to taunt a Catholic high school at games. And where I went to high school we used to hang the opposing team’s mascot in effigy. Seemed perfectly harmless at the time, but these days the whole culture of high school sports troubles me, and taking it to that level bothers me on some visceral level.

  • Baal

    Eh, the message from twitter and comment threads generally is that snark and hating the ‘other team’ (excessive posturing) is a virtue. I agree that these signs were excessive and the school (coach) should have given the signage a once over before the game. I’m somewhat understanding that these are kids and the background message from most quarters is to be aggressive.

    • RTH

      So far as I can tell these students were there as spectators, not as members of some group affiliated with the school. I don’t really think that the school should be able to regulate the content of spectator signs (even those held by spectators who are also students at the school) the way that the school might be able to regulate the content of signs held by students who actually are there representing the school (e.g., cheerleaders).

      • baal

        Thanks, I had interpreted the headbands and stripe on the sweat pants as part of the team / cheer section and not some random attendees.

        • RTH

          It’s possible they are on a pep squad, but that is not made clear in the article.

      • TheBlackCat13

        Since when are spectators allowed on the court?

        • RTH

          From the pictures it doesn’t look like they are actually on the court.

  • Rain

    On another note, even if you’re playing a religious school, why bring religion into the picture? If your team doesn’t have the talent to win the game, Jesus sure as hell isn’t going to help them.

    The sign was probably just an ironic joke. Give them credit for having a sense of ironic wit! We might be over analyzing this a tad bit.

    • RTH

      Yeah, this seems like an example of the common tradition of poking fun at the opposing school’s name or mascot (e.g., “Tame the Mustangs,” “Sink the Mariners”).

      Their opponent was a school that has “Baptist” in its name, so they made a Jesus joke.

    • Bob Becker

      I thought the same.

    • TnkAgn

      I think it unlikely these high schoolers were attempting the ironical. Is the “I hate Parkview intended to be “ironic” as well?

      The only irony here is that Parkview turns out to be favored and loved more by Jesus, crushing these mean girls school by 17 points.

  • http://twitter.com/luciferadi Adi Rule

    The “hate” bothered me a lot more than the Jesus joke. It’s one thing to try to come up with a clever jab — and teenagers are still developing their senses of humor/appropriateness/how-to-be-adults, so they miss often — but “I Hate XYZ” is just aggression. It’s sad to me that this is the atmosphere there.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

      teenagers are dum. i remember being one, and doing dumb things. and how i used hurtful words all the time. don’t most of us do that? when we’re teens?

      yes, the “hate” word is more disturbing to me too. but not that much more. there are so many ugly words tossed about in high school, it’s hard to count them all.

      this story mostly makes me say “meh.”

      • TheBlackCat13

        No, I was not intentionally hurtful. And if I realized I had inadvertently been hurtful I would be pretty upset.

        And if I had “hate” next to anything on a t-shirt the school would be the least of my worries, I would probably be grounded for a semester at least.

        But overall I the idea that intentionally making other children suffer is somehow normal, expected, and acceptable behavior is a serious problem. I know because I faced it for a long time.

  • A3Kr0n

    What’s wrong? The Bible clearly states that you must hate Parkview Baptist.

  • Michael

    I hope their punishment was to have to wear Parkview shirts for a month.

  • TheBlackCat13

    Made me think of this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

    I think the signs are a tad much but not something that deserves punishment. It would be great if the signs sparked conversations about why they were inappropriate and what would be more appropriate.

    Simply punishing the makers won’t accomplish much.

    Punishing them at all bothers me a bit because it feels like anti-blasphemy to tell them they can’t say something like that.

    The general context is not cool – “hate” and all. But friendly rivalry is good. I think the first sign is entertaining though I’m not sure theists would feel the same.

  • nazani

    If your team comes out and acts like God is on your side, as apparently many bible belt teams do, then turn about is fair play.

  • roberthughmclean

    The signs cheapen the use of the word “hate”. Bit like someone saying “godbless”, means nothing but sounds good.

  • http://twitter.com/maxbingman1 Max Bingman

    Bad sportsmanship any way you look at it.

  • SeekerLancer

    Fight Christians, fight for my amusement!

  • ORAXX

    I can forgive teenagers for their ignorance. It’s their parents and teachers who, evidently, saw nothing wrong with this sign that disgust me.


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