Super Bowl vs. Sabbath

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Robby Myers considers himself a sports fanatic. Growing up, he watched the Super Bowl with his family every year.

After going on a mission, Myers, a senior from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, majoring in information systems, decided he was not going to watch sports on Sunday any more, and that included the Super Bowl.

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Some BYU students elect not to watch the Super Bowl because of the Sabbath.
As Latter-day Saints, students are faced with the decision of whether to watch sports on Sundays and whether to watch the Super Bowl, the most-watched television broadcast of the year.

Myers said his decision to stop watching sports on Sunday was strongly influenced by experiences on his mission.

“As a missionary, I had a really good trainer who was 100 percent obedient to everything he knew about and all the mission rules in the handbook,” Myers said. “We were together about three months, so everything he did, I did. It just kind of stuck.”

Myers said he found this to be effective and he decided to continue with the same dedication after his mission. He said his family still watches the Super Bowl but he tries to avoid watching it.

Watching the Super Bowl on Sunday is a personal choice many students differ on at BYU.

“I have friends who watch games on Sunday, and I think that is their prerogative,” said Kevin Cangelosi, a senior from Coppell, Texas, majoring in finance. “It’s important to me that, on Sunday, I not focus on things that are so distinctly of the world.”

Mitch Jergensen, a junior from Hemet, Calif., majoring in business marketing, is a devoted sports fan who watches sports every Sunday.

Jergensen said he does not feel there is anything wrong with his actions since they do not affect the lives of others.

“I still go to church on Sunday and do righteous things, but me going to the store, for example, would influence other people’s Sabbath day observance, whereas watching the Super Bowl does not,” Jergensen said.

Single students often find the way they observe the Sabbath is different from how their roommates do.

“For my family, the TV is never on on Sunday,” said Matt Beckstrand, a junior from Alpine, majoring in business management. “I’m never going to go tell my roommates to turn off the TV because it is Sunday or impose the way I feel.”

Beckstand’s dad loved sports as a boy and always watched sports on Sunday. When his dad came to college his dad realized his sport watching had become excessive.

“It would take over his day. That’s when he decided it was not worth it,” Beckstrand said.

At that point his dad decided to stop watching sports on Sunday. Beckstrand’s dad also began a tradition of recording the Super Bowl each year, so he could watch it on the following Monday.

To continue this tradition, Beckstrand said his dad has to make sure he keeps out of listening to any media the day of the game.

“My dad on Super Bowl Sunday is always very sheltered because he does not want to hear any scores,” Beckstrand said.

Beckstrand said he feels this is a good way to compromise over watching the Super Bowl and this was how he watched it each year with his dad.

“The reason watching the Super Bowl on Sunday is so controversial is because the Sabbath’s letter of the law does not define watching sports,” said Cangelosi. “But rather you do what you feel is right.”

Cangelosi admits he is bothered when people say they cannot fulfill their priesthood duties because of a sports game. He did have an experience where a co-chair would not help him work on a church project on Sunday unless he could watch the game at the same time. Cangelosi decided he would turn the game on so the co-chair would help him with the specific duty that day and they were able to multitask.

He said he feels there are some times in life where the spirit of the law trumps the letter of the law, but you should try to live as close to the letter as possible.

“I think everyone has to continually adjust their standards,” said Erick Hollenbaugh, a junior from Spokane, Wash., majoring in civil engineering. “I mean [not watching the Super Bowl on Sunday] is not a standard I have always believed in.”

Hollenbaugh loves sports and is an NFL fan, but does not consider himself a fanatic. Watching the Super Bowl was something he looked forward to every year since his dad always loved it.

Over the years, Hollenbaugh has felt a need to change the way he observes the Sabbath.

“There have been times where I do things on Sunday and then I wonder afterward, not is it acceptable, is it good?” Hollenbaugh said. “In general, the trend is to go toward the minimum, I guess I would just ask myself, if I could keep the Sabbath day so well that it would become like a power in my life, would I do this?”

Hollenbaugh said he feels it is important to make sure your priorities are where they need to be.

“You should never displace something that is really important for something of lesser importance,” Hollenbaugh said.

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