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Friday, January 16, 2009

Religion column causes stir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I detest that Gatorade nonsense anyway.

Comments

KEITHMILES05 11 years ago

Mayer is losing his mind or whatever is lost of it. Horrible journalism.

Marcia Parsons 11 years ago

One should edit carefully when criticizing someone else's writing: "Mayer is losing his mind or whatever is lost of it." Whatever is LOST of it???

lance1jhawk 11 years ago

I really thought that I had put that article to rest and would never have to remember it when... this happenened. Bill is really starting to embrace the Andy Rooney in him.

NH_JHawk 11 years ago

Bill, is this your attempt at a resurrection?

JBurtin 11 years ago

I actually thought it was a rather funny article.Guys, reach behind you and pull out the stick, it's starting to make you cranky.

johnnykk 11 years ago

Dumbest.Article.Ever.Retire already... take Rooney with you.

kc_wildfire 11 years ago

JBurtin...Couldn't have said it better myself!

John Brown 11 years ago

I like the article. I live in the bible belt where this phenomena exists outside of sports. It is common for people to credit the good to God but have no explanation for the bad. Christ lived amounst the poor and proclaimed the it would be more difficult for the wealthy (or the lucky). I went to a bar in college with one thing on my mind. After 6 beers, I went home with the prettiest girl in the place. I proclaimed 'Thank you Lord'. Then I woke up the next day......

Ryan2845 11 years ago

I'm with Mayer on this one, the column reminded me of The Onion:NFL Star Thanks Jesus After Successful Double Homicidehttp://www.theonion.com/content/node/28692

JayhawkPhil64 11 years ago

I am absolutely no Mayer fan but he was totally correct about the hypocrisy of religion in sports. A very good article.I must admit Mayer has improved greatly ever since he wrote that horrible article a couple years ago infering that Brandon Rush was just coming back to school for the free operation. That was a disgusting column even for him. But a few months later he wrote a wonderful article about a KU alum(forget the name) who had died and he has written some pretty good columns ever since. I don't know how an old dog like him can change his spots this late in the game but as someone who has criticized him since the sixties, I have to give him credit for the improvement of his columns in the last year or so.

JacoHawk 11 years ago

It's called freedom of speech. Get over it. Who made you the religion editor anyway?

KirkwoodHawk 11 years ago

Ryan,Great article! I love The Onion. Couple years ago during the Kansas School Board drama, I sent out an Onion article where the Kansas School Board was changing the teachings of the Law of Gravity. Several of my friends, not aware of The Onion, read it and thought it was a true story.

11 years ago

"...don't tote the tutor!" - - Hilarious :^) I always wondered if Coach Mangino had issued an edict in this area of celebratory concern.Regarding the initial article and the follow-up piece above, many athletes likely give the praise where it rightfully belongs - - thanking God for providing them with the ability to perform in their given sport, not for the victory itself.

jesusisajhawk 11 years ago

This article is a bit out there, but please note my screen name for my thoughts on the matter. Rock Chalk!

geniusmannumber1 11 years ago

Gosh, I thought the first column was the best thing Mayer had written in a decade or longer -- setting the bar low, I know. But insightful? Interesting? For him, maybe. But it's a really, really hackneyed topic. So many people have written about the subject already, with much more insight, or humor. And then to write another column congratulating himself for it?Ah, what's the point. He gets a column until he dies. Not worth the trouble to complain.

jayhawk02 11 years ago

Mayer, this shows just how egotistical you are. You finally write an article that promotes lots of banter, then you have to follow it up with a pointless article that proves absolutely nothing. I think the only reason your wrote this second article was to try to get more posts about it. Write a REAL newsworthy story that has something to do with KU athletics. Until then, feel free to keep your personal opinions regarding players and their religious beliefs to yourself. As for me, I'd much rather hear an athlete thank God for giving him the ability to compete at a high level, than see them bring attention to themselves ala Terell Owens.

GabrielMichael 11 years ago

I liked the column Bill. It stimulated a good conversation. I must say though that you will not understand the Christian/Athlete's comments if you are too proud (i.e. above all that 'religion' stuff). The closer you get to the Truth/light of the world the more you see your own faults and the more humble you become... then you can start to understand why some of these guys realize the gift they've been given and out of humble gratitude give credit and thanksgiving to God. "Only the penitent man shall pass". I might add only the penitent man can begin to understand.Ridicule me if you must but think about it.

blearned69 11 years ago

I'm with bill on this.. Great article!!!Keep up the great work.

Chris Corley 11 years ago

The first thing I learned while studying at the William Allen White School of Journalism was never to become the story.

SuperHawk211 11 years ago

You certainly hoped it would cause a stir didn't you? That's obvious by the way you expressed it. What's the point by the way? So you heard an athlete express his faith when he performed well and didn't want to praise himself but someone that he felt had a more significant role in his success and that bothered you. By the way if you are really looking at it as if they are thanking God for beating an opponent then this is more personal then you are letting on. Truth is that they are glorifying God for blessing them with the opportunity and the skill to succeed. As you should know not everyone is blessed with those same opportunities and those skills. Regardless... they have the center stage and they can do with it what they choose. I'd much rather hear them praise God then praise themselves or condemn their opponent. Almost seems like your goal is to antagonize your readers with your nonsense. You should probably stick to a subject you actually understand.

d_prowess 11 years ago

Finally someone has mentioned the fact that Mangino never gets the water jug dump! The Orange Bowl cameras even captured the coaches stopping the players from doing it. Can someone on staff ask the question about this?!? Why? I love some of the quotes that Mangino gives and I bet he would have a classic line for why. Please, someone, do it!

speedy 11 years ago

there seems to be a generation gap in this column. when those of you who do not like bill,s column will wake up somday and find you crossed over without realizing it. great thoughts Bill. with time comes wisdom.

nebraska_jayhawk 11 years ago

Superhawk- My thoughts Exactly! You are exactly right! I've never seen players give glory to God for beating the brains out of their opponents but because they have the ability and opportunity to do what they do. And since God gives people their ability to do sports, they obviously want to give thanks to HIm for that. Don't know why people get so up in arms when someone gives glory to Christ for things. Re: You certainly hoped it would cause a stir didn't you? That's obvious by the way you expressed it. What's the point by the way? So you heard an athlete express his faith when he performed well and didn't want to praise himself but someone that he felt had a more significant role in his success and that bothered you. By the way if you are really looking at it as if they are thanking God for beating an opponent then this is more personal then you are letting on. Truth is that they are glorifying God for blessing them with the opportunity and the skill to succeed. As you should know not everyone is blessed with those same opportunities and those skills. Regardless... they have the center stage and they can do with it what they choose. I'd much rather hear them praise God then praise themselves or condemn their opponent. Almost seems like your goal is to antagonize your readers with your nonsense. You should probably stick to a subject you actually understand.

zissou 11 years ago

10point8, those "rules to journalism" you learned in the J-School have obviously paid off. How about one I picked up myself during my time in the same school? "Respect the guys in the room who have done the job." Like Mayer's writing style or not, he's made a living and a career out of being a journalist. I wouldn't call myself a fan either, but he can give his opinion because he's earned that right. I've always considered the "I just want to thank God for...." speech at the end of sporting events as standard filler for athletes who have just come off the field/court and have a microphone thrust in their face. What's the big fuss?

jayhawkintx73 11 years ago

Atheism has all but ruined journalism. If you have an opinion on religion, write it in the op ed section of the newspaper. That way you won't look so stupid Bill.

jayhawkintx73 11 years ago

zissou, Giving one's opinion is NOT JOURNALISM. Maybe that is what they teach in Missouri. Journalism doesn't include you putting your opinion in a story. THAT IS NOT NEWS. That is why there is the op ed section. USE IT. The NY Times reporters do that with 80% of their newspaper, which is why they have lost more than 50% of their readership the last decade. GET A GRIP!

Joe Ross 11 years ago

This was an outstanding article, and those who dont get it simply cant recognize genius (and that says more about YOU)! A good article doesnt seek to make everyone agree with it, no! A good article is thought-provoking. It reaches people. It draws out an opinion. It spurs dialogue. To all of you with nothing but negativity to bring, even your own comments testify to the excellence of this piece!And that is true whether you agree with him or not.Personally, I found the article FUNNY AS HELL!

Gordon Penny 11 years ago

Everone who thinks Mayer should retire now before he embarrasses KU, the KU Nation, and the state of Kansas anymore, please sign here.1. Halogenlamps

Joe Ross 11 years ago

Everyone who think halogenlamps should shut his mouth before he demonstrates himself a fool, quietly chuckle.

esque 11 years ago

Does Maher owe a lot of you guys a lot of money? The way some of these posts rip him is downright vicious and over the top. I realize there is a huge generational gap that separates most of the readers and he, which makes some of us chuckle at his prose and perspective on things. However, some of you really get after him for ANY piece he writes. I happened to actually enjoy and agree with this one. Some of you really need to exhale and save your energy for more worthy issues.

TyatKU 11 years ago

There is nothing wrong with questioning god, nor is it wrong to make the question public. Suggesting he should retire because he presents this question is embarrassing. I think its funny that god gets all the credit for the good things while people or 'evil forces' get the credit for the opposite. Didn't god create everything? Is he not the cause of it all?

Jeremy LeMaster 11 years ago

Reach around and pull the stick out... hell, they can probably cough it up!

JBurtin 11 years ago

Lol, you're probably right, TaCityHawkFan. Some of these people really need a hobby.

JBurtin 11 years ago

"Naturally there was enough zealotry to remind me that a lot of Christian devotees take their church ties seriously and that I might wind up in Hell for my irreverence.What’s done is done; I’ll try to send you all a post card from wherever I wind up, whatever happens."Come on guys, you've got to admit, that's pretty funny stuff.I'm sure Jesus understands the concept of a joke.

jayhawkr34 11 years ago

ya'll dont know it, but agree or disagree with mayer, he considers this a good read just by the response alone. the purpose of any writer is to create discussion....done.

actorman 11 years ago

I am nauseated to the point of constant sickness by the never-ending religious garbage that spews out of the mouths of people in all of walks of life. Hear, hear, to Mr. Mayer for commenting on it.JayhawkPhil put it best; the Rush column was a definite low, but Mayer has been much better lately.And for those of you who keep spouting "jornalism this" and "journalism that," let me point out a minor detail to you: Mayer is not REPORTING, he is writing a COLUMN. A COLUMN is, by its very nature, based on the OPINION of the person writing it. Perhaps all of you nattering nabobs of negativity should try educating yourselves before you come off looking any more idiotic than you already do.And before the comments from the Jesus freaks become too vitriolic, let me add that when I say "religious garbage," I'm not referring to the good aspects of religion, such as helping people, standing up for the poor and downtrodden, etc. I'm talking about the constant proseltyzing, the shoving of it in my face everywhere I turn, comments like Urban Mayer referring to Tim Tebow as a "good Christian," ad nauseum (literally).Good for you, Mr. Mayer.

actorman 11 years ago

To whoever is in charge of editing people's comments, PLEASE STOP CHANGING MY CAPITAL LETTERS INTO SMALL ONES!

FlaHawk 11 years ago

The point of any good article is to provide facts and urge the readers to thnik about the point of the article. Based upon the response, I think thta Mayer has done a very good job of stimulating the community.Whether you agree or disagree it is his right to write as he feels and this he has done with excellent results!

JayCeph 11 years ago

jross, nice show. Mayer, nice call.Humor has its advantages and some of them or more subtle than others.Here's a good one:http://www.youtube.com/user/EdwardCurrent

KEITHMILES05 11 years ago

Mayer has to hate Wayne Simien and his new found faith.Sad.

Joe Ross 11 years ago

Keithmiles..."another" brilliant post sarcasm!Mayer has nothing against God or faith or holy rollers or religion or Heaven or the Baptist congregation down the street. Its clear to me that he just agrees with the concept of Separation of Church and Sport.God wont help the Jayhawks defeat Mizzou, we can manage that on our own thank you very much. Can a brotha get an "Amen?"

dukehester 11 years ago

So do we have anything else as earthshaking as Mr Mayer's state of mind? Is there really more than maybe five people under the age of 75 who truly are concerned? OBTW, a jet crashed into the Hudson River!

jaybate 11 years ago

Bill needs clicks.Writing about religion spikes clicks.Spiked clicks allow Bill to keep scribing.A man's gotta eat.Read what ya want.

Eliott Reeder 11 years ago

I used to talk trash on Mayer. Have to admit he's growing on me of late. Maybe I'm getting old.

Alex Berger 11 years ago

Man, I love how when religion gets brought up, the claws come out. Christians get slammed for being close-minded (which most are) but yet there are the non-Christians who blindly reject any Christian's right to freedom of speech while being close-minded to the other extreme. Good job Mayer if you wanted to cause a stir (which I have little doubt that he did). I would agree that it is dumb to think God grants wins to either side because unless SMU is playing some Atheist University, and I don't know of any with a football team, there are going to be people on both sides who pray for a victory. That means that one side is not getting their "prayers" answered. I have to think that God is not too worried with a football game.Although, I have never liked the argument that if people thank God for a victory they should thank God for defeats. It's like saying that if a child thanks his parents for getting gifts, he should thank his parents for getting punished too. Now does anyone know of any kids that thank their parents after they are spanked or grounded? As a whole I liked the article because it created some good discussion, but the personal bashing is kind of childlike. I guess that goes with every blog though...

actorman 11 years ago

Amen.And jaybate, what was that about spiked chicks? Oh, clicks, you said spiked clicks, I get it.

jayhawkdandy 11 years ago

Theoretical question.Mayer detests gatorade baths.I detest Mayer.Does that mean I detest gatorade baths also?

Kit Duncan 11 years ago

"Allens's death may have been indirectly caused by a Gatorade shower. Allen died on December 31, 1990 from ventricular fibrillation in his home in Palos Verdes Estates, California at the age of 72. Shortly before his death, Allen noted that he had not been completely healthy since some of his Long Beach State players dumped a Gatorade bucket on him following a season-ending victory over the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on November 17, 1990."___ quote from wikipedia George Allen had a history of heart trouble and probably had a lot of folks nervous about his health. I cringe anytime I see players dump a container of Gatorade on their coach, especially if the ambient temperature is cold and the coach may already have a lowered core temp from standing on the sideline without proper clothing. Shocking the heart that way is not a good thing!Mangino is especially not prepared physically for a Gatorade dump ...at any time!

jacqueshock 11 years ago

I don't see KU playing for a national title in football within the next few years. It's a possibility, but I'd say a BCS bid is the best the team could do. That's very good and it certainly builds the program toward competing for national titles, but it'll take a few more 4-star athletes coming in on a consistent basis (much like the basketball team) for the Jayhawks to make a run.

jayhawkintx73 11 years ago

Its amazing how many people think they know why one prays to God. Bill assumed as does everyone who says he has the right to spew it. The 1st Amendment also gives the athlete to "exercise Religion". So either way, you are trampling on someone's right here. Bill shouldn't have written in the sports column without having some idea of why a specific athlete that should have been named said a prayer after scoring a TD or after winning a game. At the end of the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants game last weekend members of both teams prayed together. I don't think they were praying because the Eagles beat the Giants. Get a grip on you hatred of religion and at least try to understand it.

jayhawkintx73 11 years ago

Furthermore, if you want to criticize an athlete for saying a prayer, then you open yourself to being criticized yourself. Bill, you screwed this one up. Its probably time to move on and start writing about real stories and not some opinion that you have because of what you want to believe an athlete is praying for.

jayhawkintx73 11 years ago

The Orange Bowl and Insight Bowls were not cold. Gatorade would not have affected him unless he's allergic to an ingredient of it.

jayhawkintx73 11 years ago

Esque, of course you agree with him. You're an atheist that pretends to know what the athletes themselves pray about. Its called ELITISM and the same cause of the economic disaster we have in this country. Liberals thinking they know what is right for everyone else. There is an oped section for a reason. Thats where that column belonged. It was not truthful whatsoever. A sports column is not to evoke a religious debate. It was way off topic, and it might actually prove that Maher is getting SENILE!

JayCeph 11 years ago

jahawkintx73~You appear to see the world through rose-thorn colored glasses. Apparently, the one side of the coin that you are missing is the 'elitism... or knowing what is right for everyone else' but flying it under the banner of Christianity. There is a tremendous amount of righteousness that comes across as a form of 'elitism' when others are told that their way is not only wrong, but damnable if it doesn't jibe with how certain people interpret the teachings of Christ.Jesus was a Liberal. He was a community organizer who wanted to 'spread the wealth.'As long as we understand this significant yet subtle point, I doubt the 'controlling conservatives' and 'bleeding heart liberals' will see the imaginary differences that polarize the vast majority of American politics.If they fail to recognize this, then we will all fall prey to the very (dogmatic) rationale that supports extremism... the very ideology we are purportedly fighting in the Middle East.Have we really reduced our thought processes to the banal and unfeeling disregard to others that we supposedly fight against? I certainly hope not.

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