Originally published January 9, 2009 at 12:00a.m., updated January 9, 2009 at 03:52p.m.

Who does Jesus cheer for?


In those days when Notre Dame and Southern Methodist both were prominent on the college football scene, they often drew attention because of team prayers before games. This caused columnist Dan Jenkins to ask: “OK, which gang does God favor, the Catholics or Protestants?”

An unexcelled wit with a Southwest Conference background, Dan also inquired if The Big One favored the Methodists (SMU) or the Christians (TCU) in their annual battles.

So I’m wondering if Jesus nowadays suffers a perplexing series of quandaries about where to be, and when, because of all the gratitude sent his way by top performers as they discuss their victorious feats in post-game television interviews. Loaves and fishes are one thing, inflated pigskins another.

How many times this college season have the first utterances of interviewees been something like “First I want to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ”? Then they analyze. Crucify me, but I think it’s become a bit much, a little out of place. (I’m no infidel. I once was active in Fellowship of Christian Athletes programs, then got uneasy about what I considered some parochial excesses.)

On a day when there are a lot of games, how can even Jesus diffuse himself to favor so many guys in so many places? Is he a fan, of whom, or just a benevolent presence that doesn’t have a thing to do with how some game turns out — sincere and wishful as his athletic devotees may be about his inspiration and guidance?

Will Islamic players start citing Muhammad or Allah? Will Jewish guys hail Jehovah or Moses? Maybe it’s an expanding trend we’ll have to accept. But like those FCA overkills, it leaves me queasy.

• When Carl Peterson took over the Kansas City Chiefs football operation in 1988, he asked the inimitable broadcaster Bill Grigsby, once a Jayhawk Network throat, how to lure more customers. Grigs said he’d go out onto the Plaza and start putting pairs of ducats under windshields to get people interested. Grigs, who seldom lets the facts spoil a good story, said that for a long time he’d go back and check and somebody would have added two turn-back tickets with the original duo.

You’ve heard the same bit about Kansas and Kansas State in their leaner days. Peterson and Grigsby kicked that gag around for years. Except the ousted Peterson hasn’t been chuckling much lately.

• I’m as good at reading contracts as I am at accomplishing 20-foot pole vaults, but as I understand it, Kansas football coach Mark Mangino’s incentive package produced an extra $75,000 for KU’s Insight Bowl victory. Last season’s BCS bowl appearance and various coach of the year honors provided a Mangino bonus of about $175,000. But that was before Mark’s current contract of $2.3 million a year with incentives was instituted.

The new deal opens the door for some $675,000 in yearly bonuses for achievements and ticket sales in the through-2012 pact (for $2.3 mill per). There’s also a retention payment of $1.5 million if Mark remains KU coach through Dec. 31, 2012.

But as I read it, the bonus for the ’08 season is about $75,000. Not bad for a Pennsylvania kid who paid a lot of dues to get where he is.


psychology 11 years ago

This is a poorly written, poorly thought-out article. Please do better next time.

JuliansWright 11 years ago

Jesus cheers for no one, he's a fictional character. Tim Tebow is the son of God.

Chiliskate 11 years ago

ok... Mark Mangino.. Grigsby... Peterson... Allah...Jesus..and some other stuff..I am sorry...... Huh???????????

KUPROUD 11 years ago

Bill, the article is a little disjointed. But the "Jesus" question is a good one. My answer? Jesus would cheer for everyone involved and hope they enjoy a fair, safe game with good sportsmanship, and then urge them to move on to dealing with life issues that are far more important than a game. Tim Tebo is apparently a terrific young man and a devout man of faith. There's is nothing wrong, and much that is right when a person of faith thanks their God publicly for the inner strength that faith can give and the opportunity to live and breath and participate in this world. But it is a big stretch to thank God for helping me win this game and beat those other guys who (by implication) can't possibly be as good and righteous as me. My hunch is that neither God nor Jesus take sides. Now if the ushers will come forward, we will receive the offering and have the benediction. Amen.

craigers 11 years ago

It's unfortunate that Mayer had to write this. In my opinion he is the one being self-righteous. People thanking God has nothing to do with them saying they are better and more righteous than the other people on the opposing team. You can read into it if you want, which is Mayer's perogative but it is simply a stretch. He is upset that people are sharing their faith in such an open way and to some that don't want to hear it think it isn't right!At least some of the kids that give God the thanks and glory are doing something valuable with their talent and lives. I wish more student athletes cared for others like Tebow does.

JayCeph 11 years ago

God doesn't like sports. He watches Food TV and re-runs of 'Who's the Boss' on his DVR (divine video recorder).

4jhawks4ku 11 years ago

This was supposed to be a funny and entertaining article. I thought it had some interesting takes on three subjects. Take it for what it is, jeeez.

jhyphene 11 years ago

Jesus cheers for whoever Missouri is playing. It's true, he told me.

63Jayhawk 11 years ago

Craigers, your are right on target!

wheatman82 11 years ago

to shed some light on some theological questions:"On a day when there are a lot of games, how can even Jesus diffuse himself to favor so many guys in so many places?"- omnipresence is one of the characteristics attributed to God/Jesus. In material world this is not an easy concept to get, but nonetheless God is not just in one place at one point in time, He simply Is."Is he a fan, of whom, or just a benevolent presence that doesn’t have a thing to do with how some game turns out — sincere and wishful as his athletic devotees may be about his inspiration and guidance?"-God is in control of all things, but he allows us free will, in this case each player make plays according to their choices. Which is no real answer to the question, you could make an argument for either. In either case, God is for every player on every team regardless of religious beliefs or circumstances. Last point. "How many times this college season have the first utterances of interviewees been something like “First I want to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ”? Then they analyze. Crucify me, but I think it’s become a bit much, a little out of place." - If people are choosing to recognize God as the source in which they receive their athletic gifts and thank Him for it, how is this different than receiving a gift from a friend or family member and thanking them for it. Because the media chooses to interview them and publicize this doesn't make it too much. You would never get upset at a player for thanking another person or teammates for helping them achieve goals, why are people so upset when the shear mentioning of God is involved?

JayCeph 11 years ago

I'd like to thank the Lords of Kobol and the infinite splendor of the Spaghetti Monster for allowing me to participate in this dialog without losing my mind.God/Jesus/Jack Nicholson cheers for the Sienna Saints, Holy Cross and the Banana Slugs of UC Irvine. He frowns on all things Carolina and when it comes to the Jayhawks, he chooses not to interfere with greatness and just quietly steps aside.

pitthawker 11 years ago

I wonder who Santa Clause rooted for...(And yes JayCeph, I too would like to thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster...for giving this new day)

TyatKU 11 years ago

Can omniscient God, whoKnows the future, findThe omnipotence toChange His future mind?Why pray if god already knows the outcome of the game? Why would god change his ultimate plan just for you? Seems a little selfish doesn't it?

Joe Ross 11 years ago

Good article that over half the posers here would have less than half the mind to write!

gutter 11 years ago

I would like to know what the hell this is supposed to mean - "Will Jewish guys hail Jehovah or Moses"?

jayhawk02 11 years ago

JuliansWright-For your sake, whenever your time on this earth is through, you'd better hope so. As for me, I truly admire those who admit that they would be nothing without God. I know He gave us all the will to chose what we believe, but it saddens me to whenever I hear people who say there is no God. You may make fun of me all you want, but I know if I were to die this day, I'd be in a much better place than any of us can imagine. How about you? You can either come back with jokes or sarcasm, or take time and think about it.

hkdonhoops 11 years ago

Bill,I think you are missing the point of the person's greatfulness to God. We are called to be thankful for what God has provided, win or lose, good or bad. If an athlete (or anyone) only acknowledges God after a win, then I would agree with your cynicism. However, I believe that Tim Tebow and others are thankful to God even after a loss. We don't see those moments very often because the winning teams are the ones who are typically interviewed right after a game. In regards to prayers before games, why do you assume they are praying for a win?

GabrielMichael 11 years ago

I think if you're questioning why anyone 'thanks the Lord' your priorities are out of whack. The late great Vince Lombardi said it best, "God, Family and the Green Bay Packers." I'm not a Packer fan but admire the man for the example he set.

GabrielMichael 11 years ago

HnH - you're right... and it appears to be 'open season' on Christians in our public forum these days (evidently even in Lawrence). They're the only group of people it's OK to openly ridicule which is kinda funny since most groups with differing views are tolerated under the guise of 'equality'. Truth be told Christianity is now the great 'Counter-Culture'.

GabrielMichael 11 years ago

We are free to believe what we want. Thanks be to God (that's for Bill). We are free to choose good or evil. We are not free to determine what is good and what is evil.

JayCeph 11 years ago

I'm not sure 'Christianity' per se is under the proverbial microscope. From what I've been able to glean, it would appear as though the 'righteousness of faith' (regardless of what house it lives in) is what is being scrutinized.I think Christianity gets a lot of the attention (as of late) due to its proliferation and ubiquitous nature in western culture... namely the USAWe all have our own "crosses to bear" but try not to let that euphemism anchor the dialog to a singular perspective.

PittsburghJayhawk 11 years ago

Just once I'd like to hear a player say "we were doing great...until Jesus made me fumble!"

GabrielMichael 11 years ago

Nicely articulated Jay... many great points. It's just that if you're buying what Jesus is selling (and I am) there becomes no other way to look at the world. And as soon as you think yourself 'rightous'... you're probably not. Peace bro

11 years ago

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1

JayCeph 11 years ago

GB- Therein lies the rub. That POV (of only one way to look at the world) is what garners such a vitriolic response from many. They feel judged by those that have no room to do so and yet hide behind the banner of a benevolent father... sounds kind of contradictory.Too bad so many people are more 'Christian' than 'Christ-like.'Yes, peace~

GabrielMichael 11 years ago

Again I agree Jay. I do think a stereotype is being employed by those who have such a response (at least I hope). If a Christian is judging anyone they've missed a big section of the textbook. A lot of people could probably brush up on their 'approach' but if you believed (if you knew in your heart) that you'd found the cure for cancer wouldn't you want to share it?

JayCeph 11 years ago

I think by that time, after much scientific due diligence, I'd have proof of my cure for cancer. It would be a moral and mortal imperative to share this gift.If I just thought I had a cure for cancer and tried to implement it, I might cause more harm than good.However, I get your point. When someone can produce this 'cure' you are talking about, I'd love to hear more about it. 'Till then, it is mere conjecture.Now, I just have to be good for goodness' sake and hope that others will as well.

barackchalkjhawk 11 years ago

What? I want the 1:12 of my life back for having read this article.

Rick Arnoldy 11 years ago

I have no problem with peoples' faiths and beliefs. But those interviews only last about 30 seconds. I'm watching a football game. In that 30 seconds I'd really rather hear why the guy's team couldn't score when they had first and goal inside the five or what they saw that set up the blocked kick. As far as prayers, I went to a Catholic school. We didn't pray for victories. We prayed that both teams played to the best of their abilities and that no one got hurt.

GabrielMichael 11 years ago

Jay, The Truth is out there... keep seeking it. You will find it or it will find you if you have a contrite heart. Did you see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?... "Only the penitent man shall pass."(this is me trying to fulfill a moral and mortal imperative to share the gift)

jhawkmike57 11 years ago

Bill-- In these days when so many athletes are saying "Look at me, I'm the greatest", I like it when some of them give credit where credit is due. They're not saying "We won this game because God was on our side." They're saying they as individuals have the skills to run fast and throw well because they've been blessed. They're being the opposite of self-centered. They're acknowledging the Creator who made them special.You have been blessed as a writer (well, most days I think that!), and if you're taking all the credit to yourself, you're misguided.

jayhawk02 11 years ago

If you find true happiness, wouldn't you want to share it with others? That's what Christianity is about. We are supposed to share with others that God loves them and has a plan of salvation for them. It's that simple. So if you get offended whenever you see John 3:16 written on part of a player's uniform, he/she is only trying to share how to find true happiness. I, as a Christian am not judging anyone, only trying to give them an opportunity to find the peace and happiness that I have found because of His grace. Anyway, you can say you are happy all you want to, but whenever you go through a crisis (losing a child/parent/spouse) I have found it's sure a lot easier allowing God to get me through it, than relying on my own strength. Just sayin.......

Jeremiah Holcomb 11 years ago

And because God has given us minds to think, through diligent study we can come to a knowledge of truth... It is too bad so many have ceased to search and choose to wallow in their current state of emptiness...

GabrielMichael 11 years ago

Allah and Buddah were not announced since the beginning of time... nor did they split time in half... which is what happened when Jesus was born. (BC/AD) Truth doesn't change... if it does it never was a truth. Part of our problem is most people would like it to change. Problem there is truth is like natural law or physical law. I can't get tired of the law of gravity and one day decide to fly. We don't break natural laws either we break ourselves against them. Just like you don't change truth just because it doesn't fit daily mood.Sorry dude... it's truth.

jaybate 11 years ago

**Jesus: the jaybate interview***jaybate: What up?Jesus: Big KU game tomorrow in East Lansing.jaybate: Are you going?Jesus: No, I'm too busy trying to throw the money changers out of the Federal Reserve.jaybate: Who do you cheer for? Bill Mayer wants to know.Jesus: (pushes a "That Was Simple" button on the coffee table) My biggest enemy. I'm an enemy lover from way back.jaybate: YOU have enemies? Who?Jesus: Pontius Pilot, Satan, Mary Magdelene's dad, shall I go on?Jaybate: I mean in basketball. Jesus: Well, for a long time it was Tark the Shark. Ungodly good defensive coach. Beezelbub taught him the game down under. They ball down there, you know. Lot's of prison bodies not surprisingly. Very rough brand of ball. Lots of profane trash talking, too, again not surprisingly. j

vmwskywalk 11 years ago

Jesus is just all right with me... Jesus is just all right oh yeah... Jesus is just all right with me... Jesus is just all right...

jaybate 11 years ago

jaybate: What kind of facilities are we talking in the nether world?Jesus: Well, Eternally Damned Indoor Stadium with His Satanic Majesty's Court is certainly among the best down there, or so I have heard. It reputedly sits on the banks of the Styxx River, where the fishing is lousy. Its an acid river. Nothing like the Kaw or the Wakarusha Rivers in lovely Lawrence, Kansas. jaybate: you'd make an excellent Sports Information Director, if you ever tire of being a savior.Jesus: Don't forget I have uncommon insight into your soul. Don't blow smoke up my burro's caboose.jaybate: Yes, sir. Um, so what enemy did you root for after Tark?Jesus: Bob Knight, of course. He was immensely profane and had an unholy anger management issue. He needed me to cheer for him desparately. jaybate: surely a guy like him gets damned to hell, or at least some purgatory minutes, right?Jesus: Let's just say that Bob has begun serving his time, by having to work as a color man with idiots...and for extra measure I made sure he had to listen to Vitale.jaybate: Who after Knight?Jesus (hits the "that was easy" button again): Lute Olson. I called the Holy Father on that one. Arranged for him to meet that second wife--the gold digger?jaybate: 'nuff said on that one. You guys are doing your heanvenly jobs.(Lightening strikes jaybate, who continues to arc with electricity in his now static frizzed hair for several minutes before regaining full consciousness.)jaybate: Why did you do that?Jesus: Judge not and you will not be judged.jaybate: Gotcha. Forgot the wrath of god stuff. Check.Jesus: Any more questions?jaybate: Well, yes, one? Is God a Jayhawk fan?Jesus: I try not to speak for him/her.jaybate: I know, I know, but you must have some idea?Jesus (whispering): I'm not supposed to tell this, but every October 15th, Dad paints the Pearly Gates Crimson and Blue and he has the angels sing, "I'm a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay, Jayhawk/ from Lawrence on the Kaw!jaybate: righteous, utterly eponymous. That does it. Interview over. Rock Chalk!

Rick Arnoldy 11 years ago

Aw, come on, Jaybate. You had an interview with Jesus and you never asked about Nolan Richardson's "Forty Minutes of Hell" defense!?!?!

Cody Stumma 11 years ago

Jesus cheers for a playoff system. LOL

Gregg Webster 11 years ago

I think it's time to start visiting the Official KU sports site again. This new site goes from bad to worse almost daily. Please show somebody the door, and go back to the great site this was before somebody digs a deep whole and pushes this this a journalism prof on acid?

troutsee 11 years ago

I thought this was a great article. Personally, I am sick of athletes crossing themselves, praising god for every win and every personal triumph, as though if there is a god, that he/she really gives a rip who wins a football or BB game or whatever. We live in a society where we are taught to thank the lord for every thing good that happens in our lives but every thing that is bad is our fault (we were given a brain and made a bad decision). Give me a break. I'm sick of broadcasters lauding athletes because of their great faith. Do you have to be a Christian to be a good person? Hell no.

63Jayhawk 11 years ago

"Who does Jesus cheer for?" For whom does Jesus cheer?

John Mueller 11 years ago

You have to be a true Jayhawk to make it to the bottom of this pile.Wow. Lots of opinions. cool.I'll finish with this.Darryl Stuckey is a Christian. I remember him talking about his faith earlier this year. And, I was very proud......Then, some poster complained about athletes talking about Jesus.Ridiculous.We have a kid in our program who is a stud in every way including the guts to publicly talk about his faith and somebody is uncomfortable with it??You don't have to be a Christian to admire somebody like Tim Tebow who is a great athlete, great kid, etc. but is also humble enough to thank his savior and brave enough to talk about his faith openly and honestly.It is admirable regardless of your own beliefs.Not sure why that makes people uncomfortable but I think it is their problem, not the student athletes.

super_jayhawk 11 years ago

"Jesus SAVES! Fakes right! Cuts left!....And runs 50 yards for the TOUCHDOWN!!!"I know that lots of people bag on Mayer for writing often rambling diatribes, but every so often he comes up with some gems and some entertaining reads. Herb Caen made a living for 60+ years doing the exact same thing, and everybody was fine with that.Mayer is kind of like your old Granddad that might ramble on about how the crops failed in '34, but every so often, he might say something really interesting or give you a historical perspective that no one else has, because he was there.I also think it's rather ironic that people loved Max Falkenstien for providing the same kind of historical perspective, but rag on Mayer for doing the same. Sure, Max is a class act, but you'd figure Mayer would get cut some slack for covering the Jayhawks for nearly as long!

Eurekahwk 11 years ago

You know what would be epic? No one ever hears the superbowl winning QB say, "First, I have to give thanks to him who makes all things possible, my lord and savior for which I draw my inner strength, Hail Satan."

jaybate 11 years ago

ohioburg,Blew it. Put me on the treadmill. :-)

Mike Blur 11 years ago

Jesus is one of the top-ten boys' names in the state of Texas. (Jose is number 1.) There's plenty of Jesuses everywhere, and I'm sure a lot of them are football fans.(I wonder...why is Jesus a perfectly acceptable child's name amongst Latinos, yet practically taboo amongst white Americans?)

jaybate 11 years ago

Anyone notice how hard they make for basketball fans to find Mayer's stories. They hide it on the front page in a sidebar where no one looks. They know we skip the front page and go straight to Men's Basketball. These editors are really sly. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

Mike Blur 11 years ago

Just got this in a "facebook note" from my friend Tommy Womack, Nashville singer/songwriter:==========================Jesus is hanging on the cross. Underneath him are his Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene and Peter.“Peter…” moans Jesus, in considerable pain.“He called my name!” thinks Peter, excited because Jesus is the Messiah, and Peter is second-in-command! Not to be greedy, but he’s excited, because Jesus just called his name, and now maybe he’s going to - in his last living moments - pass on the baton.“Yes, Master! Yes!” Peter cries upwards at his nailed-up guru.“Peter…” moans the Anointed One again.“Yes, Rabbi!”“Peter…”“What!?”“You know what, Peter?”“WHAT!?”“I can see your house from here!”

NYHAwk 11 years ago

Bill, I have asked these same questions many times over the years. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but you have to wonder once in a while if all this religion is necessary. Glad to see you are still on the job and in top form. Best to you each morning.

jhokfan 11 years ago

All around the world you can find war, disease, and starvation. I’m not a Christian but if I were I would think Jesus’ priorities would be somewhere other than the well-being of an athlete or the outcome of a sporting event. How did a tongue-in-cheek article turn into such a serious discussion over religion?

troutsee 11 years ago

Maybe it wasn't tongue-in-cheek. Agree with jhokfan.

thiknthinhawk 11 years ago

Being a Christian, thankfully, is not based on being a good person. It has to do with believing in a good God. People that are thankful for God's goodness want to share this happiness with everyone, so that other people can enjoy it, too. It won't give you a hangover, it's not illegal (yet), and He'll never betray you! .....just food for thought- doesn't open-mindedness imply that you are open to consider Jesus, too?

milwaukeeJAYHAWK 11 years ago

all i know is that Richard Dawkins loved KU when he came here. Notre Dame, SMU, BYU, ORU, TCU and all the others can have god on their side all they want. I'll take someone that actually exists. Rock Chalk!

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