What would you do if you were a Kentucky teenager set to participate in a regional championship race, but just before you took off THE DEVIL HIMSELF showed up in a Charlie Daniels Band ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’ scenario and stopped you from doing it?
That ridiculous scenario, sadly without hick’ry stumps and shoes made out of gold, happened to Whitley County High School junior Codie Thacker. She was set to compete in her third regional championship race, a race she’d been training for since June, but her coach drew bib number 666. That conflicted with Codie’s religious beliefs, and when she was told that she couldn’t change bib numbers, she dropped out entirely.
The story, with a hat-tip to Cameron Smith at Prep Rally:
“I didn’t want to risk my relationship with God and try to take that number,” said Thacker.
Maybe God’s trying to tell you something, Codie. Or maybe your coach is evil?
A spokesperson with Kentucky High School Athletic Association told LEX 18 it wasn’t brought to their attention that the request was because of religious beliefs, adding that if they knew, they would have changed the number.
For those who know Thacker, it’s easy to believe what happened next. “I told them to mark out my name because it makes me sick just thinking that my name is associated with that number,” she said.
Okay, look. I don’t want this to seem like I’m ragging on her because of her religious beliefs. Whether I agree with them or not, the girl’s entitled to follow the faith of her choosing (or her parents’ choosing, which I’m guessing because I also grew up in the Bible Belt) and make whatever decisions she wants based on it. She’s not hurting anybody by dropping out of a high school race, and the only consequence here is some other kid getting to go to Nationals.
That said … Codie, there’s a thing called context. Context is what puts things like “what should I do” and “how should I live my life” into perspective. I know you’ve heard that 666 is the mark of the beast and you assume that means something terrifying, but when you learn a little about it it becomes less dramatic. The book of Revelation talks about John’s vision of two beasts, one being a blasphemous sea-hydra suspiciously symbolic of Roman emperors, and the other being a monster that “speaks like a dragon” and has to go around marking everybody. The number 666 is the number of a man, and used to help us identify the beast. This is supposed to happen during the End Times. You are probably not the beast because that number showed up on your running identification bib, and your Kentucky high school cross country race is probably not the End Times.
Furthermore, 666 being the mark of the beast at all is debatable. Other manuscripts of Revelation read the number as “616” instead of 666, because the Bible has been translated and retranslated and moved around and reinterpreted for the entirety its existence. The girl running with 616 on her shirt is also blaspheming God, if you don’t wanna do the research. The girl running with 999 could be doing it, too, because that’s 666 upside down, and a lot of people consider that the number. And you know what? Somebody in the comments section will probably stop by to fact check me, because everyone has learned something different from somewhere and thinks they know what they’re talking about.
My best advice to you (because I assume you’re reading my comedy sports blog) would be to keep your religious beliefs strong and to cherish them, but also to maybe think a while beyond your initial “666 means THE DEVIL because THE BIBLE” and pick your battles. Use the positivity of Christianity to better yourself and your community, and maybe not to be a local news story about how you’re being stupid as f*ck at a local race.
Or, you know, try to figure out all the people whose numbers add up to 666. Don’t let 235 and 431 run side by side, that could be disastrous.