Penn State wrestler Aaron Brooks could have been another heartwarming story. He’d just won his third consecutive national title in the 184-pound division, he’s a devoted Christian and is brolic enough to take down a small polar bear, or at least a panda.
Riding the high of his NCAA Championship victory, Brooks was thrown a softball on ESPN about the role his faith has played in his success. Instead, he shanked it and chose to use an opportunity to express his faith by obnoxiously bashing neighboring Abrahamic religions.
“It’s everything. Christ resurrections and everything. Not just his life, but his death and resurrection,” Brooks explained. “You can only get that through him, it will be spread only through him. No false prophets, no Muhammad nor anyone else. Only Jesus Christ himself.”
Brooks reflexively mangled what should have been an uplifting moment until it was unrecognizable and gave us a peek into his own soul. Not only did Brooks’ uncalled-for remarks sully his moment, but his disrespect cast a cloud over Penn State’s 10th team title in the Cael Anderson era. I’ll never understand cantankerous Christians who find it necessary to dump on the religious beliefs of others. It calls into question how people like this interpret religious doctrine.
If anything, it’s probably best to cover your bases and abide by some version of Pascal’s wager, which essentially dictates that it’s in one’s self-interest to behave as if God exists to avoid the infinite punishment of Hell, to stay in good standing with any potential religions before potentially receiving bad news in your afterlife. It’s not hard. Just don’t give any potential rival deities bulletin board material.
The larger issue beyond Brooks’ throwing strays at Muslims is the NCAA Wrestling promoting his blasphemy towards the Islamic faith by posting his remarks on their official Twitter page. As the social media arm of a non-profit, you’d think they’d have the self-awareness to realize why those controversial remarks were off-base. If you thought the NCAA was enlightened enough to acknowledge the concerns of large swaths of Muslims or MMA journalist Ariel Helwani, you’d be wrong in this circumstance.
In contemporary society, Islamophobia is so mainstream, it exists as a status quo at times. The NCAA’s inaction is an implicit endorsement of Brooks’ thoughts and the NCAA Wrestling Twitter account’s unwillingness to simply delete the tweet after nearly 24 hours is an extension of that disregard for Muslims.
For anyone still confused about the outrage, here’s a scenario. Imagine being a Christian minding your business, watching the NCAA Tournament and an athlete riding the high of a big win gets approached for a postgame interview. He begins by big-upping Allah and the prophet Muhammad, then without taking a breath, pivots to dunking on the prophet Jesus Christ and his resurrection.
Even after hearing the clip, what if NCAA Wrestling tweeted it out to their followers and left it up even after it went viral for all the wrong reasons? It wouldn’t get that far because we’d see religious and a few opportunistic political leaders denouncing him by dawn and tiki torch-carrying masses marching in the streets. Aaron Brooks should serve as a lesson to all athletes. Just thank your God and if you have nothing positive to say, keep other religions out your mouth.