Sports on Good Friday… anyone else irritated?

I don’t especially follow college basketball, but I do follow the Men’s Hockey team of my less than "Alma" Mater the University of Minnesota.

The WCHA/NCAA scheduled playoffs during the Triduum.


In this day and age of DVR’s this is not so much of a problem, except for fending off new of results before you see the recording. 

But … really…. how insensitive is that?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Joshua says:

    Here in Australia last year, there was talk of having AFL football (our national game) played on Good Friday. Well, my priest, Fr Michael Rowe, Latin Mass chaplain here in Perth, W.A., wrote to all the football clubs, pointing out that Catholics attend the 3pm solemn liturgy on that day, that scheduling a match would lure Catholics and everyone into sin by profaning the day of the Death of Our Lord with barbecues and secular vulgarities, and that if they did have such a match he would preach against it from the pulpit, warning Catholics against this sin.

    That woke the clubs up! Hawthorn (my own team) wrote a very pleasant letter to him, stating that they would not support any plans to play football on Good Friday. So that dealt with that; and Fr got media coverage of his successful crusade.

    The only sour grapes was from a Protestant ex-Premier of Victoria, home of football, who had been known to present himself for Holy Communion despite being told not to do so; some people are just full of themselves.

  2. Ken says:

    About a decade ago, John Cardinal O’Connor publicly chastised Major League Baseball for a New York Yankees game in the Bronx on Good Friday afternoon. We need more leaders to use that bully pulpit.

  3. Flambeaux says:

    I’d only think it insensitive if I thought they had a clue that is was Good Friday and that Good Friday meant something.

    We’ve not exactly done a bang-up job the last 40-odd years of demonstrating that this is among the holiest of the High Holy Days that Christians observe.

    I live and work in North Texas. I’d assert that 95% of my coworkers, including a few cradle Catholics around here, have no clue what Triduum is. Heck, I didn’t know what Triduum was (other than a couple of days off of school) until I was in High School.

  4. gjoe says:

    I wonder if any Catholic players will have the courage to do what Dodgers Pitcher Sandy Koufax did, missing his start on Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur.

    I doubt it.

  5. JohnE says:

    Despite the protests of many parents, my younger sister’s high school once had their senior prom on Good Friday. In fairness to the school (a public school), I don’t think it was intentional, just very insensitive. I can’t recall now whether she went or not.

  6. Margaret says:

    My son will have to bail out early from his Thursday little league game so he can clean up, change, and get out to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper with the rest of the family. He will not be attending the Easter Egg hunt sponsored by the league on Good Friday. I’m sure they mean well, but they are genuinely clueless.

  7. Iakovos says:

    A Catholic high school in New Jersey, where I used to live, once sponsored a ski trip in 2000 that departed on Good Friday. I had the impression that it was an annual event (departing on Good Friday for a ski trip). Also, it was the regular practice in that diocese to have REQUIRED school athletic events on Sunday mornings. These were all sponsored and approved by that diocese.

    In yet another diocese, where a friend of mine teaches in a Catholic elementary school that was in process of being accredited, the teachers were REQUIRED to attend workshops on SUNDAY MORNINGS at the local *Catholic* college.

    These were all dioceses in the NE USA, which tend to be more conservative on the whole than say, dioceses in California. I can only imagine what goes on there.

    IF we don’t teach our children to keep The Lord’s Day holy, how can we expect them to keep The Triduum holy, which “only” comes once per year?

  8. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I wonder if the men from “Champions of Faith” (the Catholic baseball DVD) ever bring this sort of thing up to their coaches. Catholic first, baseballer second.

  9. Fr. Z,

    It’s irritating and insensitive. But it’s also a perfect opportunity for penance: the denial of something pleasurable. Miss the games and offer it up with Christ in His sacrifice on the Cross. It’s not as if it was a Red Sox game.

  10. Jay P. says:

    Even more irritating is the fact that this year\’s NCAA basketball
    tournament which involves Catholic colleges occurs during the Triduum.
    The first round of the playoffs occur on Holy Thursday and Good Friday,
    while the second round occurs on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. I
    encourage all faithful Catholics to boycott the NCAA basketball tournament
    this year. I just \”gave it up for Lent\” myself. Pax Tecum.

  11. gsk says:

    I ignored the entire Red Sox season in 2004 because their opening game was held on Good Friday. God would NOT, I knew, honour them if they did not honour Him. And look what happened…!

  12. Emilio says:

    Fr, I also find it very irritating, however, I don’t think your “less than Alma Mater” had much of a say in scheduling. The entire NCAA season should have started a week earlier in order to miss the Triduum. You play at 7:05 on Thursday and (if you win) at the same time on Friday. That is bad enough, but Notre Dame plays at 4:35 on Friday. They should forfeit…

  13. Deo volente says:

    It seems to have escaped notice that here in the U.S., the NCAA “March Madness” HOOPS bonanza begins tomorrow with (count them), 32 games split between Thursday and Friday and then 16 games split between Saturday and Sunday to reach the Sweet 16 next weekend. Needless to say, I will not be watching any of those games on Thursday or Friday.

    Sadly, many Catholic colleges will be included in the mix (Notre Dame, Gonzaga, Villanova) and that seems not to matter a bit. At least I haven’t heard any grumbling.

    I’m with you, Fr. Zuhlsdorf…boycott.

  14. Jeff Pinyan says:

    gsk – yes, see what happened? Satan’s baseball team took the world by storm! ;)

  15. Deo: I didn’t say I was boycotting. I will just record what I want to watch and watch it later.

    Better living through technology.

  16. B. says:

    In this part of Germany, having sports games on Good Friday is illegal, all clubs and discos have to be closed, etc.

  17. TerryC says:

    This kind of thing has become a habit in my area. The number of organized sports for kids which schedule games on Sunday morning is a scandal. They know that many of these kids come from families that attend a number of churches of many denominations, and still they do it. Catholics actually have an out, since they can go to the vigil Mass on Saturday evening. Most non-Catholic Christian groups don’t have that opportunity. Of course most also don’t feel missing “Go-to-Sunday-meeting” is a sin either, but it still teaches the kids involved that recreation is more important than God or at least than practicing your religion.
    The worst part is parents put up with it. The organizers would change it if parents just didn’t take their kids to games scheduled on Sunday morning.

  18. Cally says:

    My Catholic school’s policy is that there will be no official school functions after noon (it is a half-day) on Good Friday: no games, no practices, no academic team competitions, no clubs.

    As hard as it is when a team has to forfeit or forgo the chance to participate in some particularly important tournament, I think it’s very good. It’s a way of saying “we are Catholic and we are not ashamed to admit it, and in the end, this is just way more important than any competition”.

    And then we smash them next year :)

  19. JML says:

    But Father,

    If the Gophers lose the play in game on Thursday 7:05 PM CDT (Fox Minny) to St. Cloud State, then they don’t play on Good Friday.

    My team lost their QF series last weekend, so I get to spend Easter @ home.

  20. Phil says:

    Now we’re not talking about a Catholic University, are we? The timing of the event is a bit akward, but presumably the only thing the university could do about it is have the team boycott the match – and that’s rather over top if it isn’t a Catholic institution.

    Moreover, not watching sports on Good Friday seems to be rather more than required from us on Good Friday (correct me if I’m wrong though). It would be strange, but illegal? Like Fr. Bailey said: see it as “the denial of something pleasurable.”, perfect for Good Friday, but as far as I can tell not required of catholics. I think it’s much better to see this as an opportunity to show that for us, this world isn’t all there is, and forgo it, at least temporary, rather than shout ‘insensitive!’. The world is insensitive, and meant to be so. No use joining up with politically correct figures of all stripes – hardly any of them good – in playing the ‘mind my sensitivities!’ game.

    Now the only ones for whom this scheduling is really hard, are the Catholic players on the team, if any. They would be faced with a much tougher choice.

  21. msproule says:

    In the college hockey tournaments, there are at least two Catholic schools
    with games on Good Friday: Notre Dame (4:35pm) and Boston College (5:00pm).
    These games will be mostly attended by Catholic students, many of whom will
    be unaware of the contradictory situation they find themselves in!

  22. Danny says:

    Alas, even here in Ireland is this a problem. All over town are billboards announcing the next match of the Leinster rugby team with the caption “Have a Really Good Friday.” One certainly couldn’t make the good faith argument under those circumstances.

  23. Danny says:

    Alas, even here in Ireland is this a problem. All over town are billboards announcing the next match of the Leinster rugby team with the caption “Have a Really Good Friday.” One certainly couldn’t make the good faith argument for unawareness of the date under those circumstances.

  24. Simon Platt says:

    … and in England football matches have long been played on Good Friday, although I’m glad to say that this weekend’s big match in Preston will be on Saturday. In fact I’ve just checked online and there are not so many professional football matches taking place in England tomorrow – I’m sure fewer than there used to be – and only one elite rugby match. So perhaps there’s some good news there.

    Somebody else mentioned children’s Sunday leagues. One of the side-effects of Summorum Pontificum – probably the greatest benefit it has brought to my family – is that we now have a regular Sunday mass available at a convenient early time. My son has been able to join the local rugby club – the juniors train and play on Sunday mornings – and we shall be able to combine a traditional mass with his playing cricket on Sunday afternoons in the summer. Family life is a bit more normal than it was.

    Thinking of the Sunday rugby reminds me of something. A few weeks ago a priest was interviewed in our local paper about the problem of falling mass attendance (six of the nine parishes in my deanery are threatened with closure). He gave an explanation that I seem to have heard rather often – essentially that, these days, there are so many other things for people to do on a Sunday that religion finds it hard to compete. I think of this as the “religion as a hobby” argument. In a sense he’s right – the rugby club is absolutely heaving on Sunday mornings and the churches are, well, not. But, of course, he’s very wide of the mark: it’s only because people don’t take religion seriously as a part of their lives, and because priests don’t expect them to, that they feel justified in behaving this way. Believe me, rugby is a much better hobby than Catholicism, but as a way of life it doesn’t come to much.

  25. Jeff Ferguson says:

    Fr. Z:

    I had a similar thought this morning as I listened to the morning news on this Holy Thursday. What struck me was all of the talk about March Madness and the NCAA basketball tournaments. I’m in no way against sports, but it seemed like such a juxtaposition with the start of the Triduum. The music in my head today has been our parish’s choir singing “Stay with me, remain here with me, watch and pray”, and talk of tourney brackets just seemed so out of place.

    God bless you for your service to Christ and his Church,

  26. Mt St Mary’s University, home of MSM Seminary, plays on Good Friday.

  27. RBrown says:

    We Americans live in post-Christian, secular society–and I think there has been an excess of cursing its darkness. Although I would like to see a stage dark observation of Good Friday, let the Church hierarchy first reform that over which it has direct control–the liturgy, priestly formation, the priesthood, and religious life. Until efforts are concentrated there, criticizing society seems to me a good example of seeing the speck in our neighbor’s eye but being blind to the log in our own.

  28. giovanni says:

    I’m a little late to this, but the Baltimore Sun had an article on the Mount’s game, and the Good Friday conflict.,0,2692987.story

    North Carolina dropped 113 points on them, for what its worth. To be fair, Easter came very early this year, usually March Madness misses Holy Week.

  29. Deo volente says:

    To update this thread of comments, here is the scoreboard for Good Friday as portrayed on Yahoo Games of March 21st. I ask you to count how many are “Catholic Universities?” By my count, it is at least 7. And yes, MSM is listed.

    Since the selection was done the Sunday before, I would presume that the Catholic Colleges could have asked (as a body) that they have games scheduled on Thursday but not Friday in order to allow their students the chance to attend religious services that begin at anywhere from noon to 7:00 PM (for Stations). I doubt if that happened.

    Considering the sheer number of RC schools in this tourney, I think those that scheduled it would have been shocked but it could have been done. The Truth is, if even ONE CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY had refused to play, it would have made headline news.

    BTW, Fr. Zuhlsdorf, as you suggested I didn’t watch any of these games on Good Friday, but I didn’t boycott either. I did read the box scores the next day. That, as suggested above, was a penance for me albeit a small one. Sadly, money talks and Faith walks…

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