The Immaculate Reception… BYU Style

Leave it to a BYU student to invoke the name of the Lord in BYU’s win last weekend over the U.

Austin Collie, who caught a 49-yard pass on 4th and 18 to keep the drive alive (which eventually put BYU ahead for good), had this to say in a post-game interview: “Obviously, when you’re doing what’s right on and off the field, I think the Lord steps in a plays a part.”

His comment, of course, has generated quite bit of controversy.

My gut reaction is to dismiss the statement as youthful frivolity; but is there any way in which it could be true?

 Oh, and for those unfamiliar with the “Immaculate Reception” see here.

16 Replies to “The Immaculate Reception… BYU Style”

  1. smallaxe,
    I’ve said it elsewhere, but if you ever watch post-game shows, nine times out of ten, someone on the winning team thanks the Lord for their victory. The problem is, people are hearing his statement through some sort of special Wasatch-front, I want to be offended lens. But he was speaking the language of sports, not the language of religion.

    So no, I don’t think it’s youthful frivolity; rather, I think he’s learning how to speak once he’s a pro. (I had to learn to speak like a lawyer; back when I still entertained thoughts of being an English prof, I tried to learn to speak like an English prof. He’s trying out the language of sports and, anywhere else, the throwaway comment would barely have registered on anybody’s consciousness.)

  2. Some people just want to be offended.

    Why should the idea that God might help a player do his best or reach some kind of persona (as well as sport-related goal) be offensive? If you think it’s evidence of God “taking sides” against anyone then you’re putting waaaaay to much importance on game.

  3. In a follow-up interview with Collie by the Deseret News, Collie reaffirmed his stance, also playing the race and religion cards in his defense.

    It’s true. You can see that around the world. God cares about his children and he’s going to bless them whether it’s on the football field or any other area of their lives. I think if you’re doing the things you should do on and off the field, things are going to come together for you. …
    To tell you I got here on my own and the Lord hasn’t had a hand in my success and our team’s success and every other athlete’s success in this world is just [not true] because he’s had a hand in every person’s life. …
    I just think it’s absolutely ridiculous that people take something like that and blow it up. I really think it’s just because I’m a Mormon white kid from Brigham Young University. Anybody else says that from any other team and it’s just “how spiritual that guy is.”

  4. Could it be argued that Collie’s comment is reflective of many times in the scriptures where there is reference that a given army came out victorious from a bloody war thanks to the help from the Lord?

    I am not saying a mundane sports event is comparable to scriptural warfare, but, could it be that this is how a football player in the midst of victory makes the connection?

  5. Lots of discussion already on this over at New Cool Thang. I think if we believe in an interventionist God who answers prayers then we have to accept that prayers gets results in at least some cases. Typically the objection is that it’s football. But so what? I can pray to find my keys but not a football game? I can pray over my calculus exam but not that I play well? And can I get as good an answer to my prayer if I am intentionally and knowingly breaking the covenants I’ve made with God? (i.e. a RM out drinking and having sex)

    The way this is being portrayed is as if BYU was better and therefore more blessed. I don’t think that follows. God will only help so much. USC simply has better players, for example. So blessing will only go so far. Further one could argue that our covenants make us more accountable in ways that others don’t. There’s a big difference between an RM binge drinking and a Catholic at Notre Dame binge drinking.

  6. Clark,

    “Better” how? I still insist that Collie’s comment implies a believe that BYU is more righteous and therefore more blessed.

    I guess I’m ok with the idea of God helping an individual. I am not ok with the idea that God wants BYU to win football games. The problem here is that this was clearly the play that won the game for them, and I think that gloating that you’ve been righteous and therefore God has helped you win is unseemly to say the least.

  7. As I said over at Thang, I think the context is how many BYU players were behaving under Crowton and the last years of Lavelle. Drugs, sex and alcohol weren’t at all uncommon. Bronco’s imposed discipline and has almost certainly told his players they’ll be blessed for that.

  8. I agree that they’ll be blessed. I’m less sure that the blessings will take the form of winning football games.

  9. The player’s comment makes complete sense, so long as you BYU fans are prepared to humbly acknowledge the spiritual superiority of Notre Dame University, next time they trounce the Cougars on the field.

  10. There was supposed to be a “grin” comment on the end of the above. I put it in angled brackets so I guess the HTML filter removed the whole shebang. But hopefully everyone could guess I was joking…

    Random John, I agree it won’t always take the form of winning football games. If only because a team is made up of lots of players. But if the team as a whole is in tune then the team as a whole will be blessed. That doesn’t mean they’ll win games because even if your players are mostly playing at 100% it doesn’t follow that you’ll be better than say a LSU, USC, Oaklahoma, or so forth. (Although this year it’s been interesting in how many good teams have blown games that should have been won)

    What I think will happen is you’ll probably do better on your own terms. By extension that means you’ll be better than you normally will. As I mentioned at Thang part of that is just natural consequences. There are a lot of pragmatic benefits for living the gospel. (Not having the effects of alcohol or smoke on your physiology being but one example) But I think overall you’ll typically be doing better. It doesn’t resolve everything of course. You’re still susceptible to accident, disease plus any “character building” situations God might see fit to impose on you. Overall though I strongly feel that living the gospel and being in tune with spirit will bless you in all aspects of your life.

  11. The player’s comment makes complete sense, so long as you BYU fans are prepared to humbly acknowledge the spiritual superiority of Notre Dame University, next time they trounce the Cougars on the field.

    Nick, that certainly won’t be the case if the Fightin’ Irish’s future teams resemble this year’s 3-9 squad. 🙂

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