General Authorities are sports fans, too

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Prospective BYU president Kevin J Worthen is a sports fan. In his vice presidency at BYU, Worthen took a special interest in BYU athletics and could often be seen at President Samuelson’s side at sporting events.

President Samuelson and Elder L. Tom Perry sing the fight song during a basketball game in the Marriott Center. Photo by Sarah Hill
President Samuelson and Elder L. Tom Perry sing the fight song during a basketball game in the Marriott Center. Photo by Sarah Hill

Worthen graduated from The College of Eastern Utah, where he was the co-captain of the basketball team. After graduating from law school at BYU, Worthen returned to Provo, where he served for four years as the faculty athletic representative to the NCAA and for eight years as the chair of the University Athletic Advisory Council.

Worthen, an area seventy, is not the only general authority with a background in sports. Here are four other current general authorities who have a background in sports:

L. Tom Perry — Volleyball: Elder Perry was an active vanball player, a sport similar to modern-day volleyball. He placed second two years in a row in the all-church tournament in 1938 and 1939 before finally winning the championship in 1940. Elder Perry recalls his father leaping into the air from the stands and giving him a hug in excitement when he finally won.

Robert D. Hales — Baseball: Elder Hales frequently recalls his early love of baseball in his talks. In his biography on lds.org, Hales recounts a memory of slumping as a pitcher. After a newspaper called him out for his third straight loss, he decided to quit. His coach convinced him to stay on the team. Hales went on to pitch at the University of Utah before an injury ended his career.

Jeffrey R. Holland — Football & Basketball: Elder Holland attended Dixie High School, where he helped the Flyers to become state championships in both basketball and football. In addition, he also lettered in baseball and track in high school. After returning from his mission, Holland was the co-captain of Dixie College’s basketball team — a team that won its conference championship.

Quentin L. Cook — Basketball & Football: As a young man, Elder Cook loved all sports. In high school, Cook helped lead his basketball team to state recognition. He also lettered as a football player.

Current BYU faculty member and voice of “Music and the Spoken Word” Lloyd K. Newell has spent a lot of time around current and former general authorities and said many are fans of athletics.

“You can tell (they) still love sports — President Monson, Elder Perry come to mind — and like to attend sporting events from time to time when they are able,” Newell said.

He also noted that several past general authorities were avid sports fans and players.

“Of the apostles who have recently passed away, Elder Wirthlin was a huge football player and fan,” Newell said. “President Faust was a track star in high school and college, and Elder Maxwell was passionate about basketball but didn’t make his high school team.”

It is not uncommon to see general authorities at BYU basketball games. Elder Nelson, Elder Christofferson, Elder Cook and Elder Perry are among those frequently seated beside President Samuelson and President Worthen at basketball games.

With Worthen’s introduction as BYU president this spring, it is likely that other general authorities will occasionally be at his side enjoying BYU sports.