* Whitley County Cross Country Runner Refuses To Run After Being Assigned "666" Number -- "[Cross country runner Codie] Thacker couldn't bring herself to run while wearing '666' because of her faith. So, she and her coach tried to get a different number. They asked three different officials. They were told no three different times."
From LEX18.com in Lexington, Kentucky comes news of a high school cross country runner who forfeited her regional championship spot in a race after rather than wear bib number 666.*
Codie Thacker, a Whitley County High School junior, voluntarily forfeited her spot because of her religious beliefs concerning the number 666. According to Thacker and her coach, they asked officials to switch her number, but they refused. A person speaking for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association claimed that they did not know the request was for religious reasons. They claim that if they had known they would have granted the request.
In contrast Thacker "insists she was explicit about her motivation." "I told them to mark out my name because it makes me sick just thinking that my name is associated with that number," Thacker said. Her religious beliefs were obvious to those who knew her. On drawing '666' Thacker's coach expressed her thoughts. "I saw it and I was like, 'whoa,' I don't think she will wear that number."
I can't read minds, but reading between the lines I'd guess the Athletic Association initially thought this was no big deal -- maybe a little whacked out religious zeal -- and is now trying to cover its tracks. How many people are that out of touch with the negative religious connotations of the number '666'? Most folks could have guessed the reason even if they weren't told. So, shall we say, I'm suspicious of their explanation.
My understanding of the number '666' in Revelation would not cause me to react the way Codie did. I do not view it as an evil number outside of its context. As a bib number for a cross country runner it would be no different from 100 or 600 or 665, in my opinion. Some people will dub Codie Thacker a misguided youth, a religious zealot, and such like. But I congratulate this young lady for standing up for what she believes.** She is not responsible for what others believe. She must be true to herself. It is to the shame of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association that they viewed this young athlete's convictions so lightly and did not deal with an issue that could have been so easily fixed! In a country founded on religious freedom, she should not have to choose between running and her deeply held religious beliefs.
* A bib number is a random number designed to pin on a runner's t-shirt or racing vest. It is used by race directors to identify and tell the runners apart.
** I nevertheless hope she will come to a better understanding of the meaning of '666'.