The last time we heard from former World Series champion Gabe Kapler — an outfielder for the Boston Red Sox in 2004 — he was writing about one of his religious teammates who was later convicted of sexual assault.
At the time, Kapler said:
I’m floored that I misjudged the character of a man so horribly. Perhaps I was blinded with the mantle of righteous moral authority he always tried to wear and never looked deeper.
Chad Curtis wasn’t the first major leaguer to commit a heinous crime. I’m confident in my assessment, however, that he’ll represent the last time that I allow the veil of religion and perceived moral high ground to impede my better judgment of another human being’s fiber.
Well, Kapler’s not done writing about religion — and I’m thrilled to see that his latest article for Fox Sports profiles Josh Rosen, a top football prospect who has a rare quality: he doesn’t believe in God.
[Josh] Rosen is a junior at St. John Bosco High School (California). He is widely considered the No. 1 one quarterback prospect in the country for the 2015 recruiting class and has committed to UCLA, after receiving offers from Michigan, USC, Texas, Notre Dame and more.
Josh, however, faces a challenge that [former Red Sox teammate Curt] Schilling didn’t. He attends a Catholic high school and is the son of a Quaker Christian mother and a Jewish father. Josh also professes to be an Atheist. I asked his football coach, Jason Negro, about the impact of Rosen’s beliefs.
“We certainly welcome it. We’re not just a school for Catholic boys,” Negro said. “We are a Catholic school for all boys. Everyone’s common theme here is just be a good person. When you leave here do you represent your school and yourself well?”
Rosen says he’s respectful of his teammates who pray and his coach deserves a lot of credit for not letting religion take center stage, even at a Catholic school.
Kapler warns Rosen, though, that being open about his atheism could cost him (literally) in the long run:
Being open about his atheism may scare off some companies who wish to align themselves with more vanilla, easily marketable athletes less likely to offend the religious population. He could cost himself a few shekels.
But he could also be a voice of reason in a sport that’s home to so many super-religious players. Consider him the antidote to Tim Tebow with (hopefully) far more talent.
Chris Kluwe, give this kid some pointers, will you?!
(Thanks to Brian and Stephanie for the link)