While the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement on professional sports has been profound — much of it damaging all-important TV ratings — repercussions of the charged racial environment gripping America have also found their way into the college sports world.
While former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is more famous — and infamous — than before he took a knee during a pre-game national anthem on September 1, 2017 — the story of Kurt Beathard, the former offensive coordinator at Illinois State, not so much.
Outkick’s Jason King decided it was time to tell the story of Beathard, whose dad is Hall-of-Famer Bobby Beathard, a former NFL general manager. Here’s where Beathard’s story begins, as laid out by King.
In mid-August, Beathard arrived at his office one morning and discovered a “Black Lives Matter” sign taped to the door. He immediately removed the sign.
In small writing in the bottom corner, the sign listed a website for its sponsor, BlackLivesMatter.org, an organization Beathard justifiably views as Marxist and the cause of nationwide rioting, looting and violence. […]
In trying to understand his players’ affinity for BLM, Beathard has researched the organization. He’s uncomfortable with BLM’s call to disrupt the “Western-prescribed nuclear family structure,” a tenet of Christianity. […]
“‘I thought, ‘No, I can’t have this on my door,’” Beathard said. “So I took it off and put it behind the chair in my office. I was praying about it and I thought, ‘All lives matter here, and there’s no other organization other than Jesus Christ to sponsor that.’”
Later that day, Beathard hung his own sign. It read:
“All lives matter to our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.”
FCS coordinator replaces #BLM sign with “All lives matter to our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ” sign on office door.
— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) September 28, 2020
Illinois State “reassigned” Beathard following his posting of the sign, but not immediately; his sign remained on his office door for nearly two weeks before the pressure came from his superiors.
Initial reports suggested Beathard resigned his position. King called Beathard on Monday in search of the rest of the story. “I never quit that job,” Beathard told King.
“They didn’t demand it. They just said, ‘As a favor, could you please take that off your door?’ I didn’t take it off right away. I sat there and prayed about it, and I said, ‘God knows where my heart is. That’s all that matters. If it will help to take it off, I’ll take it off.’ ”
Beathard then told King a picture of his sign had been taken and circulated among players — some of whom were offended. On Sept. 2, the university told Beathard he was no longer on the coaching staff.
As we’ve seen time and again throughout the summer of 202o, Beathard shared with King what tens of millions of Americans believe.
“I truly believe that all lives matter. It’s right there in the Bible. God doesn’t discriminate. He doesn’t say, ‘Oh, I kinda like some of these people. But I really, really, really like these other people.”
Beathard also told King he doesn’t regret what he wrote on the sign.
“I don’t like the way this has to be. I don’t like that you can’t have a different opinion than someone else.
“But I wouldn’t change (what I did). I’m not going to deny Jesus. If you deny Jesus, He’ll deny you. It’s written in the Bible, multiple times.
“I’m not going to back down on that one.
“I think I have a message to share with players. I really do. I think I can be good for them. I can stand for Jesus in front of a group of players and not be ashamed.”
Beathard said he has relied on his faith more than ever during the past year, as King shared. His wife lost her battle with cancer this summer, and his 22-year-old nephew, Clayton, was stabbed and killed in December 2019 outside a Nashville bar.
Outkick’s Jason Whitlock tweeted a promo for King’s piece, including a word of advice not only to football coaches but to Christians as well.
“Outkick’s @JasonKingBR with a strong piece explaining what Illinois State’s firing of Kurt Beathard really means. Football coaches and Christians should read this.”
— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) September 29, 2020
Speaking of the other Outkick Jason, in an August piece titled Sports Journalist Jason Whitlock Has a Powerful Message for Black America; Joe Biden & Kamala Harris Should Follow His Lead, I reported on Whitlock’s response to NBA star LeBron James’s claim that he and his family are “terrified” as “Black people living in America,” made shortly after the shooting in Kenosha of Jason Blake.
Spoiler: Whitlock, who is black, isn’t “terrified” in the least. “Neither is LeBron James,” he said. “He’s lying.” Jason Whitlock is right.
While millions of Americans have become frustrated by the prostration of the sports world before the altar of the Black Lives Matter movement and pretend “systemic racism,” it’s good to know there are still those who stand for things that matter, while others kneel.