Religion column causes stir

The recent discussion of sports and religiosity drew predictable rain. A lot of it was in agreement and laced with humor. My point was that too often jocks overdo the business of selfish prayer to icons and deities as they seek special, personalized father-son help from up above, or wherever those guys live.

There also were some thoughtful and scholarly explanations of athletics-prayer and some respondents gave me a lot to consider about my own approach to hope and faith. Even so, many expressed displeasure for athletes who brazenly pray for victory or overstate how some higher power shoved them into the victory column.

Had to chuckle long and hard about one reader. When he was a high school football player his team won the first game and the coach went around for a week spouting “praise the Lord!” Then the team lost its next eight games and suddenly it was the kids’ fault. Sound familiar?

Another fellow, perturbed about post-game glorifications of alleged divine aid, said he’d yet to see some football star go on camera and declare, “I want to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ for allowing me to fumble at the one and lose the game.”

Another friend said Jayhawks need not worry because God paints the Pearly Gates crimson and blue at the start of each school year and is always aware of ways to help the KU cause, even if he sometimes doesn’t.

Naturally there was enough zealotry to remind me that a lot of Christian devotees take their church ties seriously and that I might wind up in Hell for my irreverence.

What’s done is done; I’ll try to send you all a post card from wherever I wind up, whatever happens.

• As a movie fan, starting in the early 1930s, who’s seen a lot of bad guys, I concluded that Heath Ledger’s Joker in the Batman film was the most evil presence I’ve seen on the screen. But with Frank “The Glare” Martin making his recent impact, there’s a possible challenger.

The TV cameras studiously avoided the rants of the explosive Kansas State basketball coach and his F-bomb rhetoric the other night but you can be sure that Martin’s visage and verbiage gave The Joker a run for his money.

• The nation’s highest-paid athletic director, Jeremy Foley of Florida, has set the bar high for Kansas’ Lew Perkins, the No. 2 AD earner. Foley gets $965,000 a year and could soon top $1 million in the aftermath of two recent Gator national football titles and two NCAA basketball trophies.

At $900,000, Perkins saw the Jayhawk gridders beat both Kansas State and Missouri and win two bowl games and an NCAA court crown in the 2008 calendar year. All Lew needs for another big hike is one more basketball title and two national football championships.

Like Florida fans, KU faithful would probably hike the ante for that kind of glory.

• With two bowl wins and those KSU-MU conquests over the past two seasons, there have been enough notable occasions for KU players to do “traditional” Gatorade dumps and carry-off capers on coach Mark Mangino. By now you have to conclude the head man has issued two edicts: Don’t drown the decider; don’t tote the tutor! He keeps bodyguards like Fernando DeSanMiguel near for enforcement. So far even seniors have chosen not to cross those lines.

I detest that Gatorade nonsense anyway.