Does the BYU Football Program Have a Spiritual Mission?

September 2, 2009 | 86 comments
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With the dawn of another much-anticipated season of college football nearly upon us, I’ve been thinking about a series of conversations I had this past year with a friend regarding the allocation of resources at BYU. This friend was bothered by the fact that the BYU football program has received such a tremendous amount attention and financial support from the alumni and administration while what he saw as more deserving schools and programs within the university went underfunded. The standard answer to such concerns seems to be that the football program is shown preference because it serves as an important missionary tool for the Church (and the school). Some might also point to revenue realized from the football program, but given every program at BYU is supposed to contribute to “the balanced development of the total person”, revenue alone doesn’t quite seem to justify such a large investiture of energy and resources. So I’m curious what others think. Is the BYU football program an effective missionary tool? And, if so, to whom exactly and in what way?

I think the program clearly serves a spiritual mission to the Latter-day Saint players who participate in it. One of BYU’s stated educational goals is to teach students “the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” While BYU occasionally hires non-member assistant coaches, its head coach and the majority of its staff are Latter-day Saints, and guiding these athletes in their spiritual as well as their physical development seems to have long been one of the focuses of coaching at BYU.

The same can be said for the non-Latter-day Saint players participating in the program, who will have extended exposure to the Church, its members and its teachings during their time at BYU. A friend of mine who played on the BYU basketball team several years ago actually told me once of an orientation she attended for all incoming athletes in which the athletic director at the time, Val Christensen, told the athletes that one of the purposes of BYU‘s athletic programs was to bring the Latter-day Saint athletes closer to Christ, while also noting that if the non-member athletes didn’t take the opportunity to learn something about the LDS Church and its members during their time at BYU then “shame on them” (he likened this to athletes spending several years in Israel among the Jews and learning nothing about Judaism).

To bolster this point, one could cite to a veritable ocean of former BYU players, both member and non-member, who might exemplify the spiritual benefits that can result from participating in the BYU football program (including, for example, Ty Detmer, who joined the Church during his stay). One can also argue that the revenues realized from the BYU football program help to subsidize BYU’s participation in other collegiate sports and that the athletes participating in those programs are, as a direct result, themselves able to enjoy the spiritual benefits of being an athlete at BYU.

The more difficult question, in my mind (and I say this as an avid BYU football fan), is whether the BYU football program actually serves as an effective missionary tool to the broader college football audience, which seems to really be the core of the arguments that some make to justify the energy and resources that are put into the football program. And, as a corollary to that question, does BYU’s program have to be top tier in order to accomplish this end?

To me it is far from clear whether the BYU football program leads to, say, more convert baptisms (and I’m not really sure of how this could be feasibly gauged). I’ll acknowledge that the program maywell create good feeling toward the Church among some, but having a prominent football program at a university known for its religious scruples can actually present some serious challenges that can undermine the program as an emissary for both the Church and the school (see, e.g., here, here, here, here, here, and here).  When situations like this arise, some of them extremely serious, the news is often widely disseminated to the disadvantage of everyone associated with university.

One might argue that the missionary work being done goes beyond just convert baptisms and encompasses outreach to many young members of the Church who are positively influenced by the BYU football program and for whom many of its team members have become role models (e.g., the program is an effort to combat the deleterious effects of contemporary culture on the youth of the Church). But, again, for every Steve Young, Chad Lewis or Austin Collie, there is a Jim McMahon, Ronny Jenkins or Owen Pochman.

I think these challenges are compounded by the pressures BYU faces in trying to recruit top tier prospects at a time when Latter-day Saint players are increasingly attending schools across the country rather than heading automatically to BYU, as they typically had in the past.  I want to make clear that I have enormous respect for Bronco Mendenhall, but I have to assume the temptation to ease the “character” bar for recruits is ever-present in the program’s on-going effort to remain competitive (something that has likely contributed to some of the past embarrassments cited to above). Additionally, whether deserving or not, the BYU football program and its fans have gained a reputation in some quarters for being self-righteous, pretentious and, at times, unruly; all of which, when combined with the success BYU has seen over the years, has helped to make BYU the team that some just love to hate (see, e.g., herehere).

Considering all of this and the intense passion that is invariably a part of the college football game, does a successful BYU football program really open more doors or result in more missionary referrals than would be opened if the energy and resources that are behind the program were re-directed elsewhere? Certainly there is prestige that comes with fielding a good team filled with good Latter-day Saint players (some of whom may even make it to the NFL), but isn’t there prestige in fielding top academics, musicians, historians, writers, or linguists in various fields (and if not, shouldn’t there be)? What is it about a high profile athletic program that makes it more deserving of the state-of-the-art practice facilities and various other resources costing tens of millions of dollars when tenure and non-tenure track teaching positions are being cut across the board, schools in areas like the humanities are long starved for space and resources, and other courses of studies at BYU are cut altogether? And if the energy and resources put into the BYU football program aren’t justified on the basis of the program being an effective missionary tool, on what basis are they justified?

[Slightly Off-Topic Editorial Note: May the Cougs sock it to the Sooners on Saturday]

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86 Responses to Does the BYU Football Program Have a Spiritual Mission?

  1. Steve Evans on September 2, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Go cougs! Go all the way to Hell!

    Marc, you’re right to point out the cost/benefit analysis. I am not sure there is any objective criteria we can point to in order to answer the question. For non-football fans the program will never be justified. For hardcore cougar fans virtually any amount is worth it.

  2. Marc Bohn on September 2, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Clearly, this same post could have been written for the BYU basketball or baseball program as well (or any other athletic program that receives substantial support).

    I think one possible non-missionary argument that could be made in support of investing significant energy and resources into these programs is that having a strong athletic programs increases the name recognition of the university at all levels, which in turn helps BYU graduates to more easily access reputable graduate programs at other universities on a more equal footing.

    Also, less spending on football (or any of these other sports) would not necessarily translate into more spending on the programs and schools people complain are underfunded (as much of money that sustains these programs comes from receipts, marketing deals, and alumni contributions that would not be otherwise available).

  3. Ardis E. Parshall on September 2, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    If we ran the missionary program the way they run the BYU sports programs, we’d hire non-member salesmen to carry the bulk of the load. We would then sell seats in the chapel with the rates determined by how much money each of us donated to the fund for hiring these non-member missionaries: folding chairs in the cultural hall would be cheap, padded seats in the main chapel would be costly, and box pews in the front (with complimentary Cheerios for the kids and reclining chairs for the adults) would be astronomical. When those hired guns were arrested for drug dealing or rape or trashing private property, we’d send them home instanter so that we could announce to the press that the bad actions had been committed by former missionaries.

    Go Cougs.

  4. SCW on September 2, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    The spiritual mission has always been and will be to beat Utah! Yeah, Cougars!

  5. Adam Greenwood on September 2, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Go Cougars!

  6. E on September 2, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    If the BYU football team has a spiritual mission, I would say it’s a FAIL. If I weren’t afraid of getting in trouble, I would attend BYU football games and shoot at the players with my BB gun.

  7. E on September 2, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    I would also love to shoot many of the BYU fans with my BB gun.

  8. Chris H. on September 2, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Wow E, that is sort of creapy. I am a Ute (BA and MA), but the desire to shoot people that root for a different sports team (even just with a BB gun)makes you….freaking nuts.

    I think the program has done some good things these last few years on and off the field. Of course, going undefeated seems to happen more often in Salt Lake in recent years. I root for both except for one weekend of the season. Go Utes, but good luck to the Cougars. (disclosure: BYU is my employer…so I might be literally selling out.)

  9. Kevin Barney on September 2, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    I suspect it is more a matter of respect than missionary work. Mormons have a craving for worldly respect. I know, because against my better self I feel that need as well.

  10. JonW on September 2, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Ok I am going to take this on. Although Marc’s counter argument is basically one I wanted to make… I am going to soldier on nonetheless.

    As someone who went to a school that had only a small athletics department in a country that did not value university athletics the way they are in the USA I would point out two facts.

    1. Successful programs are advertisements for the school. If you think about it most undergrad applicatants are probably going to apply to any one of the following:
    a. A local school because they know it or one their parents went to before.
    b. A school that for some reason they heard of because they are dedicated to a specific form of study or are so prestigious they do not need sports (Harvard, Yale, to lesser extent Chicago)
    c. A school they heard of because of the sports program.

    Post grads look at things different but that is your average undergrad in a nutshell.

    As well most of the funding for TAs and other scholarships come from alumni. That funding usually comes in because of the loyalty created to the school in part through the athletics. I can tell you from the Canadian experience that Alumni are far less likely here to donate to the schools, in part because of government funding cushions but I also think there is not that fierce loyalty you get from excited supporters of their schools teams.

    Our school won the National Hockey championship for the Canadian version of the NCAA and there was little fanfare amongst the student populous and games are never well attended for University games, and we did not even have a football program.

  11. m&m on September 2, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Ardis, how do you really feel? hehe

    You bring up good points. I have wondered about this a lot, particularly after BYU-I got rid of competitive athletics.

    Still, here are a few things that could be added to the unmeasurable mix:

    - BYU players do firesides galore. They have an impact on youth — future missionaries themselves. From what I have seen, Bronco is big on the athletes having a broader impact on the community and the Church.
    - I think the coaches, etc. are significant mentors for the players, encouraging missions, etc. Also, I think the fact that a recognized team that loses players for two years is an interest-builder (not everything will lead to baptisms, but does pique curiosity…sometimes a first step toward conversion).
    - Athletics provide a way for many young adults to get their education. The spiritual impact of that is not insignificant, for them or for their families and even future generations.
    -As you mentioned in your comment, the name recognition is a subtle thing, but imo affects a lot more than just future students wanting to get into grad schools. I think the more BYU and the Church get all around, the better it can be for everyone, in every department. Every part of BYU is, imo, part of the whole. Success in one area can breed or enable success in another (the flip side is also true, of course).
    - I wonder if the football program gets people to visit BYU and find out more about it, the Church, etc.
    - I think of past football players and other athletes who are still active ambassadors for the Church.

    In your last paragraph, you talk about the program being ‘more deserving’ — I don’t think that is the case. I think everyone has their passions, and alumni are often particularly passionate about athletics.

    Lastly, if we look at many other donors and projects (say, for example, the new addition on the business building (38 million, all donor-funded), the new Joseph F. Smith building, the new broadcasting building going up, the new library, and many other significant projects and contributions and scholarships and such (Ira Fulton, anyone?), I think we’d see that the athletic program is by no means the only program that gets attention or funding. Have a well-rounded school might enable more and more interest in the school as a whole.

  12. m&m on September 2, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    GRRR. Obviously, I didn’t delete what I had in draft below. Sorry. (Help?)

    [Admin: Done]

  13. DCL on September 2, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I have a hard time following conversations like these. It seems that we are bracketing the issue of whether the football program pays for itself (it might or might not – I don’t know) and focusing on whether it is sufficiently “spiritual” enough to receive any church resources or attention. This seems like a pretty subjective assessment. In general within church culture participation in sports activities seems to be an acceptable part of a spiritual life – we have stake softball and basketball leagues, LDS athletes are respected and elevated, etc. For better or for worse, football is the gold standard of U.S. college sports, so it would seem odd to purposely omit it from the church’s flagship university when there is no general aversion to sports within the church.

    I guess I am arguing that the standard answer (i.e. the football program has an overriding spiritual mission) is a really bad one. Why can’t the mission of the football program be to develop the physical skills of LDS athletes within a framework of a sport that allows healthy competition with peer universities? I thought that our physical development was an important part of our spiritual growth.

    This isn’t unique to BYU, though. At the University of Michigan, where I also attended, there is a wide range of grumblers (professors, grad. students, nerdy types) who complain about the resources committed to the football program. I think the “spiritual mission” element is a red herring when the fundamental complaint is really that not enough resources are devoted to the complainer’s own pet collegiate program.

  14. Rory Swensen on September 2, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    As a Utah fan, all I can really offer is that even I am dreading the Cougars’ season opener. Perhaps there is something to the spiritual angle of the program, but self-flagellation is not a very Mormon concept.

    Go Utes :-)

  15. John on September 2, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    I must be a really bad person. Four years at BYU and I really don’t care about BYU football…at all.

  16. Dan on September 2, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    As with anything tied to a religion, the justifications of increasing expenditures will always be tied to that religion’s efforts at exposure, even though it just isn’t the case. Seriously, if BYU is spending all this tithing-based money on its football organization over the excuse that it will increase the church’s exposure, we’re being had boys and girls. It has little to do with religious exposure, and most to do with BYU wanting to compete with the big boys. They’ll couch it to their investors (Mormon tithing payers) that their investment will reap greater church membership, and they may even throw in a little research here and there to prove causation (see, Ty Detmer joined, it’s working!).

    Don’t fool yourself, though. BYU is not doing this to increase church membership. They are doing this so they can beat Florida.

  17. L-d Sus on September 2, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    I believe football gets so much attention at BYU (and almost everywhere else) because it allows crowds of people to identify themselves with the school “brand”. Through football and other sports, fans can demonstrate loyalty to their school long after they graduate. Even those who never attended BYU can use the football team as a way of identifying themselves with the school. Think of football as a marketing tool for the university.

    Also, like it or not, more people are interested in football than the liberal arts department. When have you seen 60,000 fans attend a poetry reading? If poetry generated as much attention for BYU, then they would also have new buildings and big budgets. (My apologies to the poets for using them as an example. I like a nice poem, I promise).

    I appreciate the spiritual dimension that BYU gives to their athletes. But that alone doesn’t justify the budget.

    Best of luck to BYU this season…especially against FSU. Go Gators.

  18. John C. on September 2, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    While I understand the interest in high school athletics is high in UT, I just can’t get worked up about it when there is real football happening in the SEC. Go Gators!

    That said, I will root heartily for the local amateurs when they play Florida State. Anything to see the Seminoles lose.

  19. John C. on September 2, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    L-D Sus,
    you are my kind of Mormon!

  20. L-d Sus on September 2, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    I heart John C.

  21. Scott B. on September 2, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Brethren and Sistren,

    Oklahoma 56, BYU 9.

    That is all.

  22. Jonathan Green on September 2, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    I suspect that DCL is right. The question as to whether BYU should have a football team is about 99% identical to whether Michigan should have a football team. The Mormon particularities of BYU just obscure the question. Can a Division I football team build alumni loyalty and the university’s brand on a national scale in a cost-effective way without hindering the university’s core mission? A lot of places decide that it can. Why should BYU be different? I never actually watched a football game at BYU and couldn’t care less about Cougar sports, but if it works at enough other places, it probably works at BYU.

  23. queuno on September 2, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    (A bunch of disjoined BYU football thoughts:)

    Let’s face it. There are more effective and cheaper ways to bring people to Christ. The only reason there’s a football program at BYU is because the alumni want a football team, and the administration thinks it’s a way to get attention. If American culture suddenly decided that we were all big soccer fans, BYU would immediately toss the football team in favor of the soccer team. It’s about branding and connection to the university, *NOT* missionary work. Any missionary work is purely ancillary.

    The problem for BYU is, “do you want to win?” or “do you want to be an exemplar program?”

    BYU is forever caught in this loop of “we want to uphold our missionary program (although our starting QB quit his own mission after 7 months) but we want to win, so we’ll recruit kids from the inner cities who may not get along well in Provo)”. They want to be an positive example, but they want to win, and the two may be mutually exclusive. (It’s not a positive moment for the university when ESPN is running “Outside the Lines” reports on the rape problem with BYU athletes…)

    I’m a BYU alum. I had season tickets all 5 years I was at BYU, and I didn’t miss a game (hey, I needed something to do). I like BYU, in that sort of quaint, “oh, they’re my alma mater, rah rah rah” (while focusing on my real teams — Ohio State and Texas). But some of the most boorish fan behavior I’ve ever witnessed was among the BYU fans in the stands (throwing full cups of liquid at opposing cheerleaders, cursing at other players, etc.). BYU fans have potty mouths equally bad to fans at other programs.

    I always hear how the football program benefits the university — that alumni give to the liberal arts department because of their relationship with the football program. I say those are the fair-weathered alumni. BYU should be figuring out how to replace those donors. If you’re the sort who donates $100K to the football program because they need new china for the pre-game dinner, then you should consider why you didn’t give that money to a program that would *really* benefit from it, like liberal arts. Do you need to be entertained before you’ll give money?

    I always hear how Title IX is the evil creation that kills off men’s wrestling, golf, etc. But you know, if you got rid of football, you wouldn’t have these imbalance problems.

    I always hear how football is central to BYU’s mission. But Ricks College’s football team was, pound for pound, a much more successful program that BYU’s, and the Church had no program killing off athletics at BYU-Idaho (and frankly, no one misses it).

    Lavell Edwards won because he had a gimmicky offense that no one had learned to stop. Now that everyone with the athletic talent base has learned to run that offense, BYU will muddle around as the best of the rest.

    1984 was just a mythical national championship, just like every other national championship that isn’t settled on the field.

    Any school that won’t put Jim McMahon in its athletic hall of fame doesn’t deserve to win. It’s just wrong. BYU football wouldn’t be BYU football without Jim McMahon, no matter what he says about the university. BYU needs to suck it up and honor him.

    OU 56, BYU 14. (I said elsewhere it would 45-24 if BYU refrained from the fireside the night before, but alas, I am told that they have scheduled a *FOUR-HOUR* fireside tomorrow night at a stake center in the DFW area. That’s four fewer hour for Bronco Mendenhall to figure out how to stop Sam Bradford. FAIL.) I would love to have bought a ticket just to see the new Cowboys Stadium, but I couldn’t swing it right now.

  24. Alex on September 2, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    JonW – Go Pronghorns!

  25. rbc on September 2, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Ask the same questions about Notre Dame or Baylor or any other religiously affiliated college and I think most would agree, they probably don’t attract too many new converts to their faith. It’s almost silly to think of ND football as a boon to Catholicism. In some silly way the success of their programs might reinforce the faith of the already believing Catholics, but I doubt many people’s religious curiosity is piqued by football teams. The same is true, imo, with BYU.

    I am always entertained by the BYU fans who find the hand of God in the program’s on the field success (in a weaker conference) and supposed improvement in the Church’s missionary effort. They are fun to have around during football season. Their earnestness about BYU and MWC conference football here in ACC and Big Ten country is really quite charming. Bottom line for me is if the BYU football program is a net spiritual benefit for anyone else besides the players, I’d be pleasantly surprised. I’d like to think it is, but doubt it and don’t really care if it is or isn’t. College football at any level-major conference or MWC-is about entertainment. BYU football is really like a big Mormon roadshow that travels all over the country entertaining fans everywhere.

  26. Mark B. on September 2, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    What I like so much about the football team is the way it brings out the best in its fans. Forget the potential influence on outsiders–it’s the way BYU football improves the character of all its Mormon fans that convinces me of its value to the University and the Church.

  27. Dan on September 2, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    yeah, Go Cougs! And Utes can just go to H E Double Hockey Sticks!

  28. DavidH on September 2, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Given the spiritual, economic, cultural, alumni and financial advantages of an excellent intercollegiate football team, has anyone thought about bringing this to the attention of the First Presidency with respect to BYU-Idaho? Just saying.

  29. Dan on September 2, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    what? Spreading the wealth? Huh…

  30. Chris H. on September 2, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    queuno,

    “I always hear how football is central to BYU’s mission. But Ricks College’s football team was, pound for pound, a much more successful program that BYU’s, and the Church had no program killing off athletics at BYU-Idaho (and frankly, no one misses it).”

    Have you lived in Rexburg lately? The killing of the sports programs has had a chilling impact on relations with the community (Southeast Idaho, not just Rexburg). It has also impacted the ability of students, staff, and faculty alike to built a sense of identity and pride in the institution. While I am glad that they got rid of football rather than the History department, that might be next anyways.

    DavidH, just saw your comment. I actually think that abolitioning the sports in Rexburg was done in a overly rush manner. Not a big deal, I guess.

  31. Tim J on September 2, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    “I always hear how Title IX is the evil creation that kills off men’s wrestling, golf, etc. But you know, if you got rid of football, you wouldn’t have these imbalance problems.”

    First off, I believe BYU is exempt from Title IX because they are a private school. Secondly, football, like other top programs in the country, subsidize the school’s other sports like women’s water polo and cross country.

  32. Scott on September 2, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Football is emphasized at BYU for one main reason: It is a huge revenue producer. Football not only pays for itself, but for most if not all of the annual BYU athletic program budget, with some help from basketball. This is the case for many universities.

    It is my understanding that no tithing funds are used to support BYU athletic programs. Sports have to be self-sustaining, and football makes it possible. (The athletic program at Ricks College was usually in the red, and therefore dropped.)

    BYU football not only produces big bucks, but also great publicity for the Church. Yes, there is definitely a spiritual benefit derived from BYU football. It is a win-win situation.

    Announcing the change of the name from Cougar Stadium to LaVell Edwards Stadium, was non-other than President Hinckley himself. He also gave the BYU team a pre-game pep talk in the locker room, and it worked. The Cougs won the game against New Mexico 37-13.

  33. James Olsen on September 2, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Speaking of church leadership (#28), I vote for a scrimage between The Brethren and Relief Society General Presidency + Board. While there’s very little doubt who would win (I’m quite sure the age gap would overcome any inherent biological brutishness), such a game would surely bring in more revenue than a decade of a successful BYU football program.

    One point that is being dramatically overlooked in the above comments is the uniqueness of BYU as an institution in all its activities. Whether you believe there really is a difference is irrelevant – BYU loudly and ubiquitously proclaims to the world (and mostly to itself) that it is unique, special, not subject to the same motivations, rules, expectations. BYU is not Baylor, is not Notre Dame, is not the University of Michigan. The missionary (or at least spiritual) aspect of the football program, far from being a red herring, is the critical point in terms of its justification vis-a-vis the university’s explicit mission. BYU is not meant to have extraneous, neutral, same-as-anybody-else-so-don’t-worry-about-it programs. Tithing funds of course are a major part of this – which again, BYU touts constantly. Tithing is and always will be a sticking point for justifying all expenses at this university.

    This, of course, does not mean that it ought to be rejected out of hand. I think Marc’s raising very interesting points. And I do think that it needs to be justified, especially since Marc is far from exaggerating the amount of church resources & energy spent on the program. I especially think it’s an interesting question as to whether or not BYU could successfully reap all or most of the current benefits with a less well-greased (financially speaking) machine.

    Another point: BYU football seems to be serving the same function for many fans as football, soccer, and rock concerts do for much of contemporary society: it’s an opportunity for an ecstatic, communal form of worship, the sort that’s largely disappeared from society. Again, a good question is whether or not the church wants to promote it.

    Finally, no one has raised the issue of BYU’s missionary success on the other side of the veil. The reach of the church’s influence grows exponentially if we can picture the hosts of the dead cheering (or cursing) us on. And how glorious it must be to be a BYU fan on the other side, and not be restricted against dyeing one’s hair and painting one’s naked body blue!

  34. Chris H. on September 2, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    “First off, I believe BYU is exempt from Title IX because they are a private school.”

    They accept federal financial aid, so Title IX still applies.

  35. Eric Russell on September 2, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    Tim, BYU is not exempt from Title IX.

    Marc, I don’t understand what needs to be justified. We know BYU is not sacrificing any financial resources – indeed just the opposite. So what specifically is the university sacrificing that requires justification?

  36. Thomas Parkin on September 2, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    I like it when BYU loses. It makes me laugh. I hope they beat Oklahoma though.

    I’m a Huskies fan.

    I was driving away from a grocery store in North Logan a couple days ago, when I heard someone call out “brother!” I looked and saw a young black man chasing me. I slowed down and he asked me if I could give him a ride to campus. I agreed because he asked, because it was hot and he’d clearly been running a ways, and because he is only the second black person I’ve seen since coming to Logan last year. Turns out he’s a starting linebacker for the Utah State team. This story has nothing to do with BYU football, which is one of the reasons it delights me. ~

  37. m&m on September 2, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    But that alone doesn’t justify the budget.

    I think it’s important to remember that the football program is pretty much self-sustaining. It’s not like BYU admins are using money there that could be used elsewhere. The alums could use their money anywhere at the school — the ones who do football are making their choices for their own reasons, probably not primarily spiritual!

    I do tend to think, though, that if it really were not something that played into the bigger picture for BYU, the powers-that-be wouldn’t keep letting it grow and go on.

    I also do agree that not all the reasons have to be tied to missionary work. I think BYU has a mission that is pretty broad, really. Not all work done in a lot of places at the school are directly spiritual, or directly tied to missionary work, right?

    One more thought – I sometimes watch how the Church spends its money, and I’m impressed by the fact that there is a balance. We build the kingdom, we help the poor, we spend money from the commercial arm to build up the area around the Church’s center, we donate to the arts, we contribute to other programs, we grow food, we store food, etc. etc. etc. I kinda look at the way BYU has some balance in the same way. Football is just FUN, and fun has its place in the big picture, no?

  38. Tim J on September 3, 2009 at 12:12 am

    “They accept federal financial aid, so Title IX still applies.”

    I stand corrected. Thanks.

  39. queuno on September 3, 2009 at 12:38 am

    I think it’s important to remember that the football program is pretty much self-sustaining.

    So they take in ZERO donations to the program?

  40. queuno on September 3, 2009 at 12:44 am

    Have you lived in Rexburg lately? The killing of the sports programs has had a chilling impact on relations with the community (Southeast Idaho, not just Rexburg).

    Fortunately, I have not had the privilege of living in Rexburg. But I and my family have spent lots and lots of time around university environments of all shapes and sizes. The idea of sports helping town-gown relations is overrated.

    Recalling the years my family members have spent running businesses (including apartment buildings) in Provo, BYU has never been one to care about town-gown relations, unless it lopsidedly benefited BYU. I doubt BYU cares very much about the impact of football on the non-student population of the Provo-Orem area, just like it didn’t care much about Rexburg.

  41. Jim F. on September 3, 2009 at 1:03 am

    BYU loudly and ubiquitously proclaims to the world (and mostly to itself) that it is unique, special, not subject to the same motivations, rules, expectations. BYU is not Baylor, is not Notre Dame, is not the University of Michigan. The missionary (or at least spiritual) aspect of the football program, far from being a red herring, is the critical point in terms of its justification vis-a-vis the university’s explicit mission. BYU is not meant to have extraneous, neutral, same-as-anybody-else-so-don’t-worry-about-it programs. Tithing funds of course are a major part of this – which again, BYU touts constantly. Tithing is and always will be a sticking point for justifying all expenses at this university.

    James (33), something stuck in your craw? There’s no question that BYU spends a lot of time telling itself how special it is and that it can become obnoxious, but “not subject to the same . . . rules, expectations”? Where do you hear that? I’ve been here 35 years next year and haven’t heard it. Indeed, I’ve heard for a very long time that we are subject to the same expectations and that we must play by the same rules. And, as has been pointed out by others in this thread, tithing doesn’t subsidize football or other collegiate sports, so tithing is not a major part of this.

  42. Jim F. on September 3, 2009 at 1:06 am

    I should add “I’ve heard for a very long time that we are subject to the same expectations and that we must play by the same rules even when we haven’t / don’t

  43. James Olsen on September 3, 2009 at 1:26 am

    Jim, thanks for calling me up short. It’s not that I have a specific bent here, I was just trying to emphasize that I don’t think Marc’s giving us a red herring. “rules and expectations” is poor word choice on my part, especially since it’s not explained (I’m reminded of Jane Austin: oops, that was one too many adjectives/examples). I don’t mean that we don’t have to follow social norms, legal expectations, or the like in how we go about things. But I’m quite sure that in your 35 years of experience you have indeed heard repeatedly that we’re not subject to the same motivations or justifications; we have an unique end goal that permeates every aspect of what we do. My point is certainly not that the rhetoric is obnoxious, just that it is certainly relevant when we think about justifying any of our programs, football included.

    I’m curious, since it’s been brought out by so many, can anyone speak authoritatively or point to an authoritative source that puts to rest the tithing issue? Is the football program, in all its facets, devoid of church financial resources? Even if it is, it still takes a great deal of (non-financial) support from the university to run.

  44. Peter LLC on September 3, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Concentrated costs and diffuse benefits? It’s probably a miracle that it’s lasted this long.

  45. Peter LLC on September 3, 2009 at 1:39 am

    tithing doesn’t subsidize football or other collegiate sports, so tithing is not a major part of this.

    I dunnno. Most tithing offerings these days are paid in cold hard cash, which we all know from previous discussions on T&S is fungible. So even if the accountant says otherwise, a little tithing leavens the lump.

  46. Hunter on September 3, 2009 at 1:54 am

    To quote Marge Simpson: Get ready, skanks! It’s time for the truth train!

    Here it is: It’s offbase to say that evangelization is one of the reasons for the existence of the BYU football program. To do so is to improperly rationalize the existence of the program. But the BYU football program does not need to be rationalized like that. Missionary work is not, and cannot be, the underlying reason for the football program. The purpose of BYU football is, well, to play collegiate football. Or said otherwise: It’s the football, stupid.

    Go-o-o-o-o-o-o-o Cougars!

  47. m&m on September 3, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Here’s a simple statement I found from Pres. Hinckley:

    “All of us are tremendously proud of BYU’s great football accomplishments. They redound to the honor of the school. They reflect good to the Church. We are proud of the team and wish for them continued success.

    “However, the primary purpose of BYU is not football. The primary purpose of BYU is to provide a first-class education in the disciplines and skills that will qualify you for productive lives while at the same time inculcating within you a solid foundation of spiritual values. ”

    kinda covers it all, imo.

    Re: tithing, just found this, from the BYU soccer FAQ page, of all places:

    “Most of the funding used for BYU’s athletic programs comes from football and men’s basketball ticket sales. Additional funds are obtained through corporate sponsors, the fundraising efforts of the Cougar Club, and private donations. The university does provide a small amount of funding, but no tithing dollars from members of the LDS Church are used to run the athletic programs.”

    Seems like that policy was important way back when, too. Just read that the Marriott Center was built w/o any tithing funds.

  48. m&m on September 3, 2009 at 2:37 am

    The link for the Marriott Center info (wasn’t sure how many links would send me into the spam queue):

    Bit about BYU history, another BYU web page.

  49. RickT on September 3, 2009 at 5:54 am

    All these claims about football being central to BYU’s mission…what is BYU’s mission? Is it education, or being a missionary tool for the church? I guess it wasn’t fulfilling its mission back in the days when it had a crappy football team, or when it imported a bunch of hell-raising ex-Marines to be on its football team.

  50. John C. on September 3, 2009 at 7:00 am

    apropos of nothing,
    If you are interested in playing fantasy football with other bloggernacle folk (and weren’t offended by my earlier disparaging of WAC football), please contact me at hpsoandsos [at] gmail [dot] com

  51. Hans in California on September 3, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Just wait until the Utah game. Go Utes!

  52. JM on September 3, 2009 at 8:06 am

    I don’t follow any of the church school teams so please excuse my ignorance. But, do they practice / play games on Sunday?

  53. gst on September 3, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Of course the Marriott Center wasn’t built with tithing funds–it was built with the proceeds of the sale of hotel room pornography!

  54. Mark B. on September 3, 2009 at 8:27 am

    As the average age at marriage rises, BYU can’t really fulfill the students’ third of Clark Kerr’s unholy triad (parking for the faculty, football for the alumni, and sex for the students). Thus, they have to compensate with football.

    Besides, there’s only so much of the campus that they can pave over.

  55. porter on September 3, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Problem with BYU football is that it overshadows the real success of the university. Everyone is talking about the football scores, what they should be talking about is is BYU’s admissions stats. This incoming freshman class has a 3.8GPA and average of 28 ACT.

    That is really a show of the quality of the institutions, not the football team.

    I think BYU-I’s athletic program is brilliant, and it would really be great if BYU followed their lead.

  56. bbell on September 3, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Go Cougs!!!

    OU will win by 4 touchdowns. I blame Max Hall and Northern Europe in advance.

    Getting rid of BYU fotball would be shortsighted and simply wrong on a lot of levels.

  57. Megan on September 3, 2009 at 10:04 am

    I went to a university that offers a fabulous education, has incredibly high alumni giving, and inspires a tremendous amount of school pride and loyalty.

    Its football program sucks.

    However, as much as I loved it, it was missing something.

    There’s nothing quite like the school pride and camaraderie that comes from a well-loved football team. I guess if you don’t love football, you’re never going to really get it.

    (Now I have a hard time understanding people who don’t like football, because in my mind football=fun, and if you don’t like football then you=no fun. This is probably not fair, and surely a result of growing up in TX.)

    However, if you do love football – and many many people do – you understand the importance of a college football team.

  58. Alison Moore Smith on September 3, 2009 at 10:27 am

    As a huge Cougar football fan—who’s been attending since Sheide was the quarterback (and I was in elementary school) and who’ll be on the 50-yard-line this season (woot!)—I have to say that to me the idea of football having a significant “spiritual mission” is mostly bunk. It’s fun smash-em-up competition and rivalry and school pride, that probably has at least as many spiritual negatives as positives.

    Go Cougars! Here’s hoping for the Sooner Schooner to stay on the field too long one more time!

  59. Hunter on September 3, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Well, said, Alison Moore Smith (“It’s fun smash-em-up competition and rivalry and school pride, that probably has at least as many spiritual negatives as positives”).

    Maybe BYU should take a play out of Boise State’s playbook?

    http://www.hulu.com/watch/5104/tostitos-fiesta-bowl-boise-st-vs-oklahoma-highlights

  60. AHLDuke on September 3, 2009 at 11:33 am

    BYU football will have a spiritual mission this Saturday night…they will be an example to the world in how to lose badly but graciously (hopefully)

    Which is better than their normal role, which is inspiring my wife to annoy me by insisting that I MUST cheer for BYU because I am a member of the Church, even though I do not have, nor have ever had any level of affiliation with the school

  61. Raymond Takashi Swenson on September 3, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    My 81-year-old Japanese mother has become a football fan in her retirement. She doesn’t know the rules, she doesn’t root for any particular team (even though my brother and I are Utah alumni, as are most of her grandchildren who went to college), she just enjoys the action, the formalized combat. When a big play happens, she jumps up and down and yells in Japanese.

    So the mission of the BYU football team is to entertain my Mom. I don’t regard that as trivial.

    And why isn’t that enough? Does everything at BYU have to have a Missionary Index Label, a sticker with a thermometer that has “Ammon” at the top and “Wilford Woodruff” as the next step down, all the way down to your Uncle George who served a mission in Germany where he didn’t convert anyone and probably caused a couple to apostatize?

    So what is the MIL of the BYU Computer Science Department? The Marriott School of Business? The Geography Department (where my mission president taught)?

    The primary MIL value of BYU as a whole is that it gives us the learning “out of the best books” that enables Latter-day Saints to go out into the world as effective participants, which gives us exposure to non-LDS, which enables us to have missionary opportunities. When considered that way, (Any other university + Institute) does about the same thing, which is what I understand (as a Utah alumnus) is something the Brethren are happy to promote.

    The secondary MIL value of BYU is that it is a working laboratory on how one goes about integrating the learning and skills of secular society with the knowledge and lifestyles of the gospel. While this can be done on an individual basis by students and faculty at other universities, BYU is one place where it can be studied in a group setting. I see value in this, including for my own field of study in the law.

    The third MIL value of BYU is to apply specific knowledge to the church, such as the work of FARMS. I can’t conceive of it happening without the nucleus of skilled people that BYU brings together.

    For a lot of people, like my mother, football is a valued part of their lives. BYU’s football program not only appeals to the Mormons who are also in that category, but it also allows Mormon football fans to interact with football fans who are not Mormon. Just as the Engineering School at BYU allows Mormon engineers to interact with engineers who are not Mormon. Football is just one of the many ways in which Mormons can interface with the rest of humanity. Communication and missionary work pass through such interfaces. So football is simply another channel in the medium of interpersonal communication through which missionary work can be done.

    Finally, there is another value to it. When 100,000 Japanese-Americans were imprisoned during World War II, it was because most Americans didn’t think of them as American, as fully human. They were largely limited to the West Coast, an insular population that was easily misrepresented in the racist press of the day. The biggest single factor in changing that perception was the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, made up of Nisei volunteers (they didn’t draft out of the relocation camps) who were one of the most decorated units, per capita, in World War II. It demonstrated that Nisei were willing to fight and die for America. It had the same kind of impact that the 54th Massachusetts and other black regiments had, leading to the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.

    When Mormons were persecuted by the Federal government, they were viewed as aliens, not truly American.

    When sports fans across the US see BYU field a football team, their perception of Mormons as American is reinforced. They see commonalities with themselves. It is more difficult for them to classify BYU students, and by extension Mormons, as a weird cult isolated from the world. BYU football establishes Mormons as Americans, and removes us from the category of people you can denigrate and impose upon with impunity, at least for most Americans.

    Through BYU football, Mormons are literally placed on a level playing field with other Americans, and that makes it harder for other Americans to persecute Mormons, at least if those Americans are football fans. This includes a whole segment of the populace that do not interact with Mormon historians and politicians and scientists and attorneys and business leaders. The football team may be the only thing that a lot of ordinary Americans know about the Mormons. That is an intangible benefit, hard to measure in dollars, but like the Mastercard commercials, it can nevertheless be “priceless.”

  62. Orwell on September 3, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Why do I always feel like to be “cool” in the bloggernacle you have to hate BYU Football?

    Football is a large part of American university tradition / life — BYU is a university. People like football. Football makes money. It doesn’t need a spiritual justification. I am fine with “football gratia footballis.”

  63. Bob on September 3, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    As a USC fan, I would like to once again thank BYU for Norm Chow, Stanley Havili, and so many others.
    DA DA, da,da,da,da….

  64. Mark B. on September 3, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Actually, to be cool in real life you have to hate BYU football.

  65. rk on September 3, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    When my brother has gone through resumes to hire people, he has eliminated candidates that graduated from a university that did not have a known football or basketball program. It all came down to name recognition. How was he supposed to know that a particular obscure liberal arts college was a decent school or a degree mill?

    I have had some really interesting conversations with people about the church when someone found out that I was a BYU alumni. People will ask me which major local college rival football team I root for and I say “Neither. . .I root for BYU.” An interesting conversation usually follows.

  66. gst on September 3, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    I am of the mind of William Buckley, who said that he’d never opened a sports page in his life, but maybe once a year he could go to a game and cheer lustily for the alma mater.

    I have no interest in sports per se. It’s the tribalism that I love!

  67. manaen on September 3, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    From the post:
    To me it is far from clear whether the BYU football program leads to, say, more convert baptisms (and I’m not really sure of how this could be feasibly gauged). I’ll acknowledge that the program may well create good feeling toward the Church among some, but having a prominent football program at a university known for its religious scruples can actually present some serious challenges that can undermine the program as an emissary for both the Church and the school
    .
    From first response:
    you’re right to point out the cost/benefit analysis. I am not sure there is any objective criteria we can point to in order to answer the question. For non-football fans the program will never be justified. For hardcore cougar fans virtually any amount is worth it.
    .
    As a BYU Psych major, English minor, and Finance MBA, who was on the Bronze ballroom dance team, I understand the questions about BYU football and missionary work. But how is would this differ from:
    .
    To me it is far from clear whether the BYU [Psychology / English / MBA / dance] program leads to, say, more convert baptisms (and I’m not really sure of how this could be feasibly gauged). I’ll acknowledge that the program may well create good feeling toward the Church among some, but having a prominent [Psychology / English / MBA / dance] program at a university known for its religious scruples can actually present some serious challenges that can undermine the program as an emissary for both the Church and the school
    .
    Or
    .
    you’re right to point out the cost/benefit analysis. I am not sure there are any objective criteria we can point to in order to answer the question. For non-[Psychology / English / MBA / dance] fans the program will never be justified. For hardcore [Psychology / English / MBA / dance] fans, virtually any amount is worth it.
    .
    ?
    .
    “Enter to Learn; Go Forth to Serve” to me seems to be a pattern more than a filter: learn to equip ourselves to serve but what to learn or to exclude is not given. We talk about a University education, but what does that mean? I cling to the classical meaning of something more than technical training and tactical ways to employ it.
    .
    What is an education and how do we know when we have become educated? A paragraph from David O. McKay, an educator before a prophet, offers an answer:
    But gaining knowledge is one thing and applying it quite another. Wisdom is the right application of knowledge; and true education – the education for which the Church stands – is the application of knowledge to the development of a noble and Godlike character.”* Pres. McKay also gives a pattern, but not a filter here. Can not a “noble and Godlike” character be formed in the struggles and choices accompanying a pursuit of excellence in Psychology, English, Finance, dance or… football? Could not guidance in the development of this character among those who identify their talents in any of these fields be a worthy part of BYU’s operations? And then would not the excellence they develop be the platform they could use to serve others with similar talents by helping them to develop this character by guiding them through the same struggles and choices?
    .
    *
    Gospel Ideals, p. 440.

  68. manaen on September 3, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    67.
    (Pres McKay’s quote ends, and a new paragraph begins, at the asterisk)

  69. queuno on September 3, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    BYU football will have a spiritual mission this Saturday night…they will be an example to the world in how to lose badly but graciously (hopefully)

    Well, that would be a marked changed from how they usually lose when on the road (i.e., the ugly display last year against TCU).

    When BYU loses on the road, the 4th quarter ends up being a lesson in the diverse ways you can receive a personal foul penalty.

  70. Cameron on September 3, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    I agree w/ #10. Its because we crave respect from the world. Also, nice quote #67.

  71. Scott on September 4, 2009 at 7:39 am

    AHLDuke #60, every tithepayer in the Church is affilitated with BYU. As stated on the BYU website: “BYU is owned and operated by the Church, and significant portions of university operating costs are paid with the tithes of Church members.”

    Of course in addition to that it could be mentioned that a general authority is president of BYU, most of the apostles are members of the board of trustees, and the Church President’s signature is on every BYU diploma.

    It doesn’t mean that BYU is better than other universities, but it does mean that BYU is our Church school, we help support it financially, and thus we are all affilitated with it–even Ute and Aggie fans.

  72. manaen on September 4, 2009 at 11:55 am

    71. BYU is our Church school, we help support it financially, and thus we are all affilitated with it–even Ute and Aggie fans.
    .
    …and my USC-alum father. When USC and BYU played each other, I enjoyed telling him that he should support his tithing, that more of his money went to BYU than to USC.

  73. Peter LLC on September 4, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    all the way down to your Uncle George who served a mission in Germany where he didn’t convert anyone and probably caused a couple to apostatize?

    Raymond Takashi Swenson’s posts are always good for something.

  74. rbc on September 4, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    If paying tithing means I’m affiliated with BYU, does that also mean I have a say in how it’s run even though I never attended?

    I will admit to defending BYU to my nonmember colleagues or friends who are way, way more intrigued by BYU football and basketball team success- such as it is- while fielding almost lilly white teams than any religious or spiritual angle to the teams. It’s the BYU fans who commandeer podiums and lessons at church with object lessons matching BYU athletic success with some spiritual principle that cause me to flip-flop and join the BYU critics. Even though BYU football success makes rabid BYU fans almost insufferable, I do wish the football team well, unless they play an ACC school besides Clemson. Besides, the loopy BYU fans provide good comic relief or an iron clad reason to tune them out and turn to my blackberry during one of their overwrought analogies/talks/lessons. They drive me straight to the bloggernacle where I can find a spiritual substitute to their nonsense.

  75. manaen on September 4, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I thought of this posting today when I read this about last night’s punch by LaGarrette Blount,
    .
    Blount’s career as an Oregon football player needs to be over. then there can’t be any incidents like this of such a high profile nature. All week, talk radio shows across the country and all columnists with a voice won’t be talking about the Oregon business school or its philosophy department. They’ll be talking about how Blount was able to be on the team in the first place after a tumultuous offseason with a suspension and a death in the family, but every program has players who have off-the-field problems of some sort.
    .
    Points to the banner-carrying role of a school’s football program and how BYU’s team could present a different identity to the public from what Oregon’s did last night.

  76. EGJ on September 4, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    BYU’s Football team provides individuals like myself with an additional opportunity to talk about the church. I love BYU athletics in general and have cheered for them for as long as I can remember even though I eventually transfered and graduated from a different school. I loved everything about attending BYU (except playing basketball in the Richards building, against some of the football players that thought that because they hit the ball before they hit my head it wasn’t a foul). The only thing that would make BYU better would be to move it out of Utah. Too many Mormons there.

  77. Hunter on September 4, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    EGJ said, “BYU’s Football team provides individuals like myself with an additional opportunity to talk about the church.”

    [clears throat] Really? Instead, BYU football usually brings up so many other emotions that promoting the Church becomes counter productive. Exhibit A:

    BYU fan: Gooooooo Cougars!!!! Kill the Sooners!!!! [ceremoniously turns to Sooner fan next to him] What do you know about the Mormons and would you like to know more?

    Sooner fan: Bite me.

  78. Daniel on September 4, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Physical education is a serious and scientific enterprise, worthy of study at the university level. Even if we eliminated the BYU athletic teams because there was some (strange) merit to arguments that it corrupts the pure (and sole?) purpose of BYU, wouldn’t it make sense to create some competitive athletic events in the name of the purely pedagogical purpose of providing the best physical education possible? I mean, can you imagine taking a physical education course that does not teach the classic American sports (football, baseball, basketball), and when it does, students just sit around listening to lectures and watching old black and white slides of people playing the sport? No. Learn basketball by getting out on the court. Learn coaching by organizing a team. Learn how physical fitness is enhanced by competition. Schedule a game against another team – preferably one up at the PE Department of the U. Ta-Da! There you have it! That is how the whole thing got started in the first place.

  79. scott on September 4, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    I can see there are a lot of people posting here that are not BYU fans. This is not a question about is you are a Utah Fan, Sooner fan, ect. Who really cares. The question is does BYU Football shed a positive light on the church?

    I never would have looked at this question if it had not been for a conversation I had with a co-worker 10 yrs ago while working at Delta Airlines in Atlanta. He was a big Tenn fan and we started talking about football at the time BYU was getting ready to play Florida State in Jacksonville. What impressed me was he knew it was a school owned by the church and he had a good impression of it because of two things.

    1. Levall Edwards he called him “a class act amount all the coaches.” 2. The players while older were less prone to get involved in illegal snares.

    I know good and well the players are not perfect, and shortly after that there were some very bad examples coming out of Provo.

    I now live in Oklahoma and the one thing that keeps coming up is the fact that here is a game of one of the most NCAA Fined schools against the only one who has never been under sanctions.

    They set a quite example, that goes along way, and more than anything it is the actions of the members that mess up what they are doing, and the impact these players have on people. Yes they do get more people introduced to the church, through what is sometimes a silly game, nevertheless I love it and will still fallow them and use civil conversations to talk about the gospel.

  80. Orwell on September 5, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    It would appear that the Lord has smitten Oklahoma to punish the Bloggernacle.

    Final: BYU 14 OU 13

  81. Alison Moore Smith on September 5, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    I take it back. I just watched the game and I’m definitely feeling the spirit.

  82. Scott on September 5, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Just to illustrate the point that I made last night here is a quote form a OU fan tonight about BYU and its coach.

    “Congratulations BYU, you have a great team and an amazing leader and QB in Max Hall. He was pressured alot and hit hard a few times, but he still made it happen. That last drive was amazing. Our D played their hearts out, but BYU was the better team tonight, including your Defense. Bronco is a class act too, his post game comments were great.”

    When they do it well, and without arrogance it does get noticed and it does have a positive effect on others.

  83. manaen on September 5, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Here’s the profile of BYU’s Coach Mendenhall that SportingNews.com posted tonight. Like the BoM ads the Church places on similar sites, this is an example reaching people who likely aren’t going to look us up in the Yellow Pages and drop in this Sunday.
    .
    ======================================
    My profile: Bronco Mendenhall, BYU football coach
    .
    Jeff D’Alessio
    Saturday, Sep. 5, 2009 – 10:56 p.m. ET

    .
    Born: Feb. 21, 1966, in Salt Lake City
    .
    Status: Married
    .
    Alma maters: Snow College and Oregon State
    .
    What’s on TV: I don’t follow any shows on television.
    .
    What’s in my iPod: Jack Johnson is the clear favorite.
    .
    What I drive: 2009 Harley, Screamin’ Eagle, blue with silver flames; 2009 Dodge pickup truck
    .
    Favorite flicks: Legends of the Fall, The Last of the Mohicans, Dances with Wolves, Broken Trail
    .
    What I’m reading: Fishers of Men, by Gerald Lund; The Healer’s Art, by Lloyd Newell and Don Staheli; The Power of Full Engagement, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
    .
    Magazine subscriptions: The Surfer’s Journal, Harvard Business Review
    .
    Bookmarks: Wet Sand, Harley-Davidson
    .
    Worst habit: Eating too fast
    .
    On my office walls: I have drawings made by my boys covering every wall. I start new each school year.
    .
    Love to trade places for a day with … Laird Hamilton. Best surfer/waterman in the world.
    .
    First job: Defensive Coordinator Snow Jr. College, Ephraim Utah. I made 4,500 for the season and Broke horses the rest of the year so I could return. One and a half hour commute each way every day.
    .
    Talent I’d most like to have: Compassion
    .
    Favorite meal: Not a meal but chips and salsa. Chips freshly made, thin and served warm. Salsa that burns your thought and everything else that has a hint of cilantro. And a pitcher of water.
    .
    Favorite athlete to watch in another sport: I don’t have a favorite and rarely watch sports.
    .
    Favorite city to visit: Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii
    .
    Favorite team as a kid: Pittsburgh Steelers
    .
    Favorite value in others: Kindness
    .
    Favorite physical attribute about myself: Hair bleaches out in the summer. Good for the soul.
    .
    And least … My nose has a ski jump, and the sun scorches it—even on cloudy days.
    .
    Dream date: Wife Holly
    .
    My greatest love: My Savior, Jesus Christ
    .
    My heroes: My parents, Paul and Lenore Mendenhall
    .
    My bucket list: 1. Visit the Holy Land, 2. Write children’s books, 3. Serve a mission for my faith
    .
    My motto: For God hath not given me the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind.

  84. Alison Moore Smith on September 5, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    manaen, that is awesome.

  85. Jayme Blakesley on September 8, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Marc:

    A thoughtful post as always. As a die-hard Utah fan, it pains me to say this, but I think the BYU football team does a fairly good job of being an ambassador for Brigham Young University and for the church. Often we think of missionary work as bringing new converts into the church. We speak less of helping new converts understand and find a place for themselves in Mormon culture. We Mormons are seen as a strange lot, so I think it is good for us to be seen as normal and main stream in some respects. Fielding a competetive football team is one way to soften some of the barriers people may erect against learning the gospel. It can also be a way for new members to identify with a Mormon team. I know for a fact that several young men in my ward (each of them first generation members) take great pride in BYU football. None of them have ever set foot in Utah, or Provo, but they think of BYU as their team. I see comments about BYU football on their facebook page and hear them talking about the game on Sunday. They enjoy sports and BYU athletics allows them to chear for a team that is uniquely theirs. They see scores of Mormon fans and realize, despite the small number of Mormons in their town, that they are not alone. A strong football team is a good thing for BYU and a good thing for the Church.

    Come November, however, I’ll be chearing for my beloved Utes!

    Jayme

  86. Vader on September 10, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Scott B. (#21),

    Enjoying that crow?