Olympics Make LDS Church Members Confront Sports on Sunday
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Edward Sommers, is one of thousands who have
joined together with other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, in volunteering his time to the Salt Lake Winter
Olympic games. Balancing a desire to give service with a commitment
to keep the Sabbath day holy is a dilemma that is not new to
Latter-day Saints. Strict Sabbath observance, especially when it
comes to sports, has always been a concern.
"All of us are balancing our responsibilities to serve and work,"
said Church spokesman, Dale Bills, who spent the first Sunday of the
winter Olympics working from home. "We've worked it out for one
another so everyone gets a Sunday break." The Salt Lake Olympic
committee, with nearly 20,000 volunteers committed to working all 17
days of the games, said it had no problem with no-shows on its first
It wasn't an issue for Mormon Olympian bobsledder, Gea Johnson, who
has never had a problem competing on the Sunday. "I've always looked
at it that this was something I was blessed to do," Johnson said.
"And I feel the Lord would want me to do it."
Utah Jazz owner and Church member, Larry H. Miller, refuses to attend
NBA games on Sundays. Instead, he chooses to watch them on TV at
home. Many youth athletes and their families have been faced with
this same question, to play or not to play?
Sunday playoff games and league schedules found Riverside, Calif.
Nathan Matson, an eight-year-old soccer player, facing a big
out-of-town tournament on Sunday. "I was so mad," Nathan said. "I
really wanted to be there." The good news is that the league juggled
its schedule and for the first time, no games are being scheduled for
Sunday, including the critical playoff game.
League President Bob Stiles, who coached a fourth-grade team last
year, said his team had the best record during the regular season but
lost the championship game when its best player, Jake Tarabilda,
didn't play because he was Mormon. Consequently, Sunday games left
teams not playing at full strength. "It really wasn't a hard decision
at all for the board to make the change," Stiles said.
Mormons Abandon Sabbath for Games
Los Angeles Times (AP) 16Feb02 D4
By Hannah Wolfson: Associated Press Writer
Religion and sports collide
Riverside CA Press-Enterprise 12Feb02 S2