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Most athletes are familiar with the traditional pre-game prayers undertaken prior to athletic contests. Most athletes participate in these rituals without any thought as to the consequences or potential impact of the prayers on their teammates. Athletes often participate in these pregame rituals out of habit or a sense of team unity…
[FN1] While similar practices might have gone unchecked in the past, several recent Supreme Court decisions have limited the days of blind indifference to these rituals.
Pre-game prayers are regularly held in public high school and university locker rooms throughout the United States. These rituals are often undertaken without any thought to possible legal consequences because the coach, team, or school have never received any complaints from concerned athletes or parents. However, the Supreme Court has recently limited the various avenues by which prayers can enter into public school activities. [FN2]
The First Amendment protects student-athletes by providing them with certain safeguards against state endorsed adherence to a specific religion, most often the coach's religion. This constitutional protection must be balanced against the coach's right to effectively run his or her team without having every word or action scrutinized. The conflict of prayer in a public university locker room centers on the students' right to be free from state imposed religious indoctrination and the coach's right to free speech. ...
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