LDS General Authorities often use sports stories to illustrate their teachings. Sports writer Travis Mortenson ranks the top 10 sports analogies given over the pulpit.
No. 10: Elder Steven E. Snow, April 2011 General Conference
Story: Elder Snow teaches that we have hopes for our lives, but we need to work to achieve them. He tells the story of Roger Bannister who had the desire to be the first man to run a sub four-minute mile. Bannister implemented an ambitious training schedule and on May 6, 1954, he recorded a 3:59.4 mile — a new world record.
Quote: “Hope can inspire dreams and spur us to realize those dreams. Hope alone, however, does not cause us to succeed. Many honorable hopes have gone unfulfilled, shipwrecked on the reefs of good intentions and laziness.”
No. 9: Elder L. Tom Perry, October 2007 General Conference
Sport: Track and Field
Story: In high school, Elder Perry’s son Lee was practicing the high jump at home in order to prepare for the state meet. He repeatedly could clear the qualifying height, but wouldn’t raise the standards. Elder Perry persuaded his son to raise the bar and see his real potential.
Quote: “Be certain that you easily clear the minimum standards for service as a missionary and that you are continually raising the bar. Prepare yourself to be more effective in this great calling.”
No. 8: Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, April 2007 General Conference
Story: In a conference championship football game, Elder Wirthlin had the football and was about to score the game-winning touchdown. However, he was tackled just short of the goal line. At the bottom of the pile, he could have reached the ball across the goal line, but didn’t do it because his mother had taught him integrity.
Quote: “Had I moved the ball, I could have been a champion for a moment, but the reward of temporary glory would have carried with it too steep and too lasting a price. It would have engraved upon my conscience a scar that would have stayed with me the remainder of my life. I knew I must do what is right.”
No. 7: President Thomas S. Monson, October 2010 General Conference
Story: While attending Oxford University in England, Elder Clayton M. Christensen was the starting center on the basketball team. That year, his team when undefeated in the British equivalent of the NCAA tournament. After making it easily to the final four, Christensen looked at the schedule and realized the championship game would be on Sunday—something he had promised never to do. Despite mounds of pressure, Elder Christensen didn’t play. His team still won.
Quote: “(Elder Christensen) says his entire life has turned out to be an unending stream of extenuating circumstances, and had he crossed the line just that once, then the next time something came up that was so demanding and critical, it would have been so much easier to cross the line again. The lesson he learned is that it is easier to keep the commandments 100 percent of the time than it is 98 percent of the time.”
No. 6: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, October 2000 General Conference
Story: A Little League football team was practicing in Inkom, Idaho one afternoon when suddenly, lightning struck the scene—and a player. When, amid the frenzy, the coaches finally realized A.J. Edwards was down, they rushed to his side and began performing CPR. Bryce Reynolds, only ordained an elder 39 days prior, cradled the player’s head in his hands and had an impression to give him a blessing. As he closed that blessing, Edwards drew his first renewed breath.
Quote: “Now, my young friends of both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood, not every prayer is answered so immediately, and not every priesthood declaration can command the renewal or the sustaining of life. Sometimes the will of God is otherwise. But young men, you will learn, if you have not already, that in frightening, even perilous moments, your faith and your priesthood will demand the very best of you and the best you can call down from heaven. You Aaronic Priesthood boys will not use your priesthood in exactly the same way an ordained elder uses the Melchizedek, but all priesthood bearers must be instruments in the hand of God, and to be so, you must, as Joshua said, “sanctify yourselves.” You must be ready and worthy to act.”
No. 5: President Henry B. Eyring, April 2014 General Conference
Story: Everyone has heroes, especially as children. President Henry B. Eyring grew up in Princeton, New Jersey near three famous baseball teams. His baseball hero was Joe DiMaggio, who played for the New York Yankees. When President Eyring played baseball, he tried to mimic exactly what his baseball hero did. He went on to say that we tend to copy what we admire most in our heroes.
Quote: “Happily, my wise parents put great heroes in my path as a boy. My dad took me to Yankee Stadium only once to observe my baseball hero play, but every Sunday he let me observe a priesthood man who became a hero. That hero shaped my life.”
No. 4: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, September 2012 CES Devotional
Story: A returned missionary was playing on a college basketball team in Utah. Unfortunately, the skill set of the player wasn’t exactly what the team was needing at that stage. He transferred and clicked with his new team. As fate would have it, he wound up back in Utah to play against his former team. Unfortunately, this player and his family suffered mounds of verbal abuse from the crowd that night. The next day was a day of reckoning. However, one fan said because they paid good money to attend the games, they can act the way they want and can check their religion at the door.
Quote:”‘We check our religion at the door?’ Lesson number one for the establishment of Zion in the 21st century: You never ‘check your religion at the door.’ Not ever. My young friends, that kind of discipleship cannot be — it is not discipleship at all. As the prophet Alma has taught the young women of the church to declare every week in their Young Women theme, we are ‘to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in,’ not just some of the time, in a few places, or when our team has a big lead.”
No. 3: Elder Neil L. Andersen, April 2011 General Conference
Story: “At age 18, Sid Going was a rising rugby star in New Zealand,” Elder Anderson said. “He was so good that being selected for the national team — the All Blacks — was a high likelihood. However, Going declared he would forego rugby and serve a mission. Many thought his chance in rugby might never come again. Not deterred, Going went to the Western Canadian Mission and had a successful mission. Upon returning, Sid not only made the All Blacks, he became so good that the Queen of England recognized his contributions to the sport, practices and games were changed so that none were on Sunday, and a book was written about him enHeadlined ‘Super Sid.'”
Quote: “Missionary service requires sacrifice. There will always be something you leave behind when you respond to the prophet’s call to serve. A mission instead of a place on the New Zealand All Blacks team? Sid responded, ‘The blessing of (bringing others) into the gospel far outweighs anything (you) will ever sacrifice.'”
No. 2: President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2010 General Conference
Sport: General Sports
Story: President Uchtdorf taught that one of the best places to observe pride is in the world of sports. Sometimes sports fans are intolerant and filled with hatred towards other teams and its fans. They vilify opposing teams and look for any flaw to attack. They rejoice when opposing players get hurt and they justify their hatred with broad generalizations.
Quote: “My dear brethren of the priesthood, my beloved fellow disciples of the gentle Christ, should we not hold ourselves to a higher standard? As priesthood bearers, we must realize that all of God’s children wear the same jersey. Our team is the brotherhood of man. This mortal life is our playing field. Our goal is to learn to love God and to extend that same love toward our fellowman. We are here to live according to His law and establish the kingdom of God. We are here to build, uplift, treat fairly, and encourage all of Heavenly Father’s children.”
No. 1: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, October 2011 General Conference
Sport: General Sports
Story: Elder Holland taught that we are in a “life-and-death contest,” and delivered his address with “just enough fire … to singe (our) eyebrows a little.” He further said that “in almost all athletic contests … there are lines drawn on the floor or the field within which every participant must stay in order to compete,” emphasizing that those on the Lord’s team need to stay on it and stop “dribbling out of bounds.”
Quote: “Well, the Lord has drawn lines of worthiness for those called to labor with Him in this work. No missionary can be unrepentant of sexual transgression or profane language or pornographic indulgence and then expect to challenge others to repent of those very things! You can’t do that. The Spirit will not be with you, and the words will choke in your throat as you speak them. You cannot travel down what Lehi called ‘forbidden paths’ and expect to guide others to the ‘strait and narrow’ one — it can’t be done.”