Religion column causes stir

January 16, 2009


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.


Leslie Swearingen 9 years, 5 months ago

How did did you come up with the idea of combining anti-sports with anti-religion/faith and mocking both at the same time? I would ask people out there, when something happens to you, how many times have you muttered, Thank you God, or thank you Jesus?There must be some practicing Christians living in Lawrence.We are all free people under the Constitution so we can talk about faith any way we want, Chief.

cthulhu_4_president 9 years, 5 months ago

What the heck is this column about? Someone obviously told Bill Mayer to read the comment threads and write an article to inflame the nutjobs on both sides surrounding the issues that draw the most comments on this website: Religion and KU Athletics.I'm going to have fun checking back today when everyone is ripping each other apart. Good job Bill! You get your bloodbath and the hits to your article. Try sticking to half-century old sports stories, though, and leave the religous commentary out of it.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 5 months ago

I stand corrected, not just 3 (first estimate), but now 4 topics sure to raise a stink.1) Politics2) Religion3) calling someones baby ugly4) KU athletics

Satirical 9 years, 5 months ago

"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." - Bill MayerI haven't listened to all the prayers, but based on my observation, most of the prayers are of gratitude (the opposite of selfish).

Satirical 9 years, 5 months ago

Could someone post the link to the original column to which he is referring?

jonas_opines 9 years, 5 months ago

satirical: here. fyi, click on author's name at top, and you get a chrono list of their previous columns

bearded_gnome 9 years, 5 months ago

Whoa. This column is all over the place.---TOBoh, you noticed that? yeah, it kinda hits you in the face. I swear, I'm a sports ignoramus, but I could do better than this! here's an idea for a ljworld poll question:does BBillM earn his pay? a. nob.yesc. don't knowd. can't telle. who the heck cares!OTS tomorrow:do you concern yourself with the vaguely circuitous maunderings of BillM?

craigers 9 years, 5 months ago

Exactly Satirical. Bill Mayer's column here reminds me of listening to an old man tell a story that turns into 5 stories. Each story ends up really having no point at all!!!

micah6_8 9 years, 5 months ago

I always assumed when the players knelt down in the endzone, they were thanking God that neither they, nor anyone else got hurt in the play.And as far as God painting the Pearly Gates Blue and Red at the start of the season, the word is that true to Jayhawk tradition, the colors "ran" and turned into a beautiful royal purple. But that is just what I heard...

MissinLawrence 9 years, 5 months ago

Was this necessary?micah6_8- I heard the same thing about the colors mixing to form royal purple. God acts in mysterious ways.

Ryan Shelton 9 years, 5 months ago

I understand the concept of satire, but I am saddened to read Mr. Mayer openly mocking a peace-loving community of believers. Nobody can fathom God's mind or great plan, so asking questions like who God favors in a ballgame, as He were Zeus looking down at the Trojan War, is belittling and merely shows our lack of understanding of what is really important. As long as we have free will, we will have hatred of others. That said, I continue to pray for the world, that we may all find the love that Jesus showed his fellow man when he walked the earth.

magonamon_16 9 years, 5 months ago

MooseisLoose (Anonymous) says… Hey Bill-God wants you to retirehahahahahahahahaha!my point exactly

Leslie Swearingen 9 years, 5 months ago

Liberty_One God is not a fairy tale character, He is very real. Try going to a Muslim country and insult Allah. You better be glad that you live in a country where you can insult others faith to your hearts content.The Boston Red Sox and the Patriots are going to come back bigger and better next year.The Celtics are going to win the championship.Go to to vote for the 2009 all stars. Did Rawling make the colors for Gryffindor, red and gold because those are the colors of Manchester United?

fouroclock 9 years, 5 months ago

We all know the commandment to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", but how many know the commandment prior to that? "To love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul." Acknowledging him in all things, even playing football and as long as its not self centered, can be an act of service to the Creator.

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