Putting Faith And Sports Into Perspective

Austin Collie

Following BYU's victory over Utah, Austin Collie made comments that seem to have rubbed some the wrong way. He told a local radio reporter, "When you're doing what's right on and off the field, I think the Lord steps in and plays a part; magic happens." Collie stood by his comments afterwards, saying his intent was to reflect a belief that good living and hard work pay off with success.

It isn't uncommon to hear people within the sports or entertainment industries give thanks to and attribute their success to God while standing at the podium during an award ceremony. Oftentimes music and movie stars will thank God for the awards they've received over other competitors, and such comments are never met with criticism by media or outrage by competing entities.

However, such was not the case for one athlete at BYU who happens to live his life according to his faith. Following BYU's come-from-behind victory over Utah, BYU wide receiver Austin Collie expressed his belief that he is blessed both on and off the field for his efforts to live his life in such a way to be deserving of those blessings.

"I'm in the spot that I am in just because I have been doing things right," said Collie. "I believe the Lord has truly blessed me. It's the reason why I'm playing [Division I] football, and if you don't believe that the next time you receive an award, then don't say you want to thank God first for your success. That is the same exact thing. For people to make an issue out of me saying that I believe the Lord helps me out is ludicrous.

"I think by saying the Lord blesses us and that the Lord has nothing to do with football or anything like that is wrong, because He does. I think the reason why I'm here and the reason why I've had such good success isn't because of me. No, it's because of what I've been given, and that goes for every athlete that's out there on the field. We should all thank the Lord for that and ask Him to bless us to the best of our abilities and for our hard work."

Collie is simply putting his faith where his mouth is. He said he firmly believes that his ability to play his best lies with his hard work and his devotion to God. He also said he believes that those blessings are not simply held in reserve for him or only for those who play at Brigham Young University.

"When you're living right and doing the right things on and off the field, and when you're doing those things, things come together," said Collie. "It's not a coincidence that you're successful when you're doing things right, but [it is] from being blessed by the Lord's hands. That's the type of faith we have and play with, and it's nothing different than any other team or athlete who puts their faith in God."

"I think me and Austin were trying to say the same thing," said quarterback Max Hall. "If you're doing everything in your life to do what you can to be a good person on and off the field, and working hard and executing, then you're blessed on the field. All that means is good things happen to you when you work hard in every facet of your life. That's all."

Whether popular or not, faith has always played a part in sports. Many athletes use their faith to achieve a desired result through prayer, whether in private or in the open. Whether by members of BYU sports teams or opposing teams, or by someone giving the pre-game customary prayer at LaVell Edwards Stadium, the spoken word isn't an idle act, but one directed towards a specific desire with a belief in a result.

"I saw Eastern Washington do it and I saw TCU do it. I'm sure every team prays before every game," said Collie. "Why do these teams pray before every game? It's because they believe the Lord will bless them. Don't pray before the game if you don't believe in that, and don't make such a big deal about it because it isn't a big deal."

Hall echoed Collie's sentiments.

"I don't care what team you're on or what religion you are; if you're doing the right thing, then good things will happen for you," Hall said. "I think good people doing the right things will be blessed with success, and it doesn't matter what you're doing or who you are."

Whether popular or not, faith has always played a part in sports. Many athletes use their faith to achieve a desired result through prayer, whether in private or in the open. Whether by members of BYU sports teams or opposing teams, or by someone giving the customary pre-game prayer at LaVell Edwards Stadium, the spoken word isn't an idle act, but one directed towards a specific desire with a belief in a result.

"There are a lot of teams that, before and after a game, will say a prayer," Collie said. "I saw Eastern Washington do it, I saw TCU do it. I'm sure there are many players who pray before a game. Why would they pray if they didn't believe that God would bless them? I've simply acknowledged that God has blessed me. To make a controversy about that is ludicrous."

Collie's point is well-taken. Going from one year where sports media reported without relent the sex scandals of former BYU football players - to now criticizing them for crediting God for blessing them for doing what they believe is right - truly is ludicrous.

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