Separation of Church and Sports

During a few seconds of random radio listening while driving around today, I chanced upon ESPN radio and heard the coach of the University of Utah football team discussing the BYU-Utah rivalry shortly before today’s game. He began talking about the “intensity” of the relationship, but then switched to the more accurate word: “hate.” Several times he referred to the “hatred” that exists between the teams.

Hatred between two Utah schools? Maybe most of the hate comes from the Utes or their fans (so I would like to believe), but it is still shocking that “hate” would be the proper term adjective. The coach said it was strong and implied you have to see it to really believe it. What hath football wrought?

Church sports don’t always seem to promote the best of feelings between different wards or branches. I remember when I was back in Provo, a young new bishop was called in the ward where we attended, and on his first Sunday as bishop, this man – a really fine and even great man – felt compelled to humbly apologize to the ward for the poor sportsmanship and inappropriate language he had used in the recent past during Church basketball events. He asked forgiveness of all those he had offended.

How many Latter-day Saints have been on the spiritual sidelines with sports-related injuries to the soul?

Do we need separation of Church and sports? If only we could apply the principles of the prayer circle from the Temple to sports, encouraging people to participate only if they have the best of feelings toward the others.

Fortunately, out here in Wisconsin, we don’t have an organized sports program – and Zion prospers.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

5 thoughts on “Separation of Church and Sports

  1. A friend of mine tells the story of a stake president who happened to go over to his stake office one evening when a church basketball game was in progress. As he passed the gym he heard some non-LDS language and behavior coming from the players. He entered the gym, walked out to center court and just stood there silently with his hand out. The game stopped and the player with the ball handed it over to the stake president. As he walked off the court the president announced, “Basketball season is now over.”
    It was 3 years before he let them play ball again.

  2. Sheesh…
    I’ll agree, church basketball can get heated at times. I don’t know why I kept signing up to do it every year I was in Young Women’s, but I did and survived, somehow.

  3. Good post. I often take issue with the intensity and heated emotions that sports can inspire, especially among those who do it in groups united by faith.

    But, erm… isn’t ‘hate’ a verb?…

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