For many, politics has either taken the place of religion, or operates with the same intensity and dogmatism that used to characterize religion

DENVER, CO – NOVEMBER 17: Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos prays during the final minute of the game against the New York Jets at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.

Despite the horror the thought may fertilize in the eggshell minds of the social justice warrior class and their campus snowflake offspring, on certain public issues maestro Don Cherry is Canada’s polar star of common sense.

 

He is without challenge the Archdeacon of sports commentary in this country, but Canada is also blessed that Cherry does not always confine himself purely to ice, pucks and players. Though let it be said he is peerless in that dominion. Over the years on Coaches Corner his eloquent observations on the “hockey code,” supplemented by the superb documentation of his “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em” videos, utterly establish his preeminence as the very mage of our national pastime.

Obligingly, for his wisdom is needed off ice as well as on, and ably assisted by his partner/sherpa Ron McLean, Cherry occasionally delves into broader concerns of high public moment. He has most recently illuminated the absurd “take a knee” tempest that has most of the North American press in its ludicrous thrall. It is not uncommon for reporters, athletes and politicians to do pilgrimage to Cherry’s Twitter feed, both for the nourishment it offers to the media’s ever-craving maw, and in many cases seeking much needed orientation of how to think and write on matters too subtle or charged for the workaday press.

Cherry pointed out what is almost always the last thing to be seen: the obvious

(By the way, and I don’t mean by the way at all, is it still the case that Don Cherry has not yet received even a basic level Order of Canada pin? Is there an official, or unofficial, boycott on his receiving this award? Do the bestowers of this honorific play a dubious kind of roulette in waiting so long to mark the career and persona of a man who is indubitably a living item of Canadiana? Do they consider him too low-class? Not “their kind of person?” Can not someone in the House of Commons at least ask why he has been so egregiously overlooked for so long? The Canadian public should at least be told, if he’s ineligible, why he is. End of needed digression.)

On the NFL’s genuflection squad Cherry pointed out what is almost always the last thing to be seen: the obvious. He noted that prior to this epidemic of bended knees during the singing of the U.S. anthem, there was one player who actually knelt for the reason that people have knelt for centuries: as a position of reverence during prayer. This was Tim Tebow. Cherry recalled that various press moralists had a very fine old time with that. And of course, they did. For what is more backward and déclassé in a diversity-propelled age than the person who takes faith seriously and acts out his faith in public. A prayer (the horror) after a touchdown was virtually a call for rerunning the Beverly Hillbillies, the snide secularist might put it, as “a documentary.”

What is more backward today than the person who takes faith seriously?

Cherry’s point as usual was plain: “The late night leftie talk shows made fun of Tim, to the cartoonists in the paper he was a joke and they made fun of him. It was brutal. Yet the NFL players (today) go on their knees to make a point and they are heroes.”

The other “problem” with Tebow was, of course, his utter inoffensiveness. The “most polite interview in sports,” said Sports Illustrated. None of the excesses of professional sports were his, he didn’t trash-talk, organized no dog fights, abstained from the to-do list of rich athletes’ vices, was in fact what the old lingo called “clean as a whistle.” Naturally, then, such an out-of-step “role model” was scorned to the highest when he bent the knee.

Well, he was just acting his beliefs. Moreover he wasn’t campaigning to have his teammates join him. The take-a-knee players of today are doing the same thing. They are acting their beliefs too, and, moreover, are actively proselytizing. They’re pointedly bringing their beliefs onto the field during the singing of the national anthem. Tebow’s solitary prayer was but a shadow of the current display, but the hostility he earned is in near balance.

It takes a subtle mind to distinguish creed from cause

Oh, it will be said, that’s different. Their “take a knee” is political. Tebow was dragging religion onto the field. Pause awhile. In the age of fervid identity politics it takes a subtle mind to distinguish creed from cause. For many, politics has either taken the place of religion, or, at the very least, operates with the same intensity and dogmatism that used to characterize religion. Politics goes to identity the way prayer used too. Protest is just old prayer “writ new.” The fact that kneeling was the posture chosen clinches the analogy. Tebow kneeled in faith. The players kneel in protest.

There’s not an inch of difference between the two — save as Don Cherry lucidly pointed out — one bunch are heroes, and Tebow, well, he’s just an out-of-date Christian hick.

Now what about that Order of Canada? What’s the reason he hasn’t received one?