Super Bowl Or Church?


I sat excitedly as a fourteen-year-old boy watching Super Bowl V on January 17th, 1971. It has been over forty-five years since I sat downstairs at my house cheering on the Dallas Cowboys as they took on the Baltimore Colts. It was a late Sunday afternoon as the game plugged along into the fourth quarter. The score was 13-13 when I heard my Mom yell down to my brothers and sisters and I to get ready for church. (Sacrament meeting was held in the evening at that time. My Dad was already at church.) Try as I might, I couldn’t bring myself to get up and do as she had requested. I loved the Dallas Cowboys and the thought of missing the final minutes was more than I thought my young heart could take. I steadfastly sat in the chair watching the game as the other kids changed back into Sunday dress and started for the car. I can still clearly see my Mom standing at the bottom of the stairs asking me if I was coming. I pleaded, “The game is tied, I can’t leave now!” My Mom then said something that I will never forget. She said, “It’s your decision, but I think you know what the right thing is!” I still remember her going up the stairs as I softly replied, “I’m staying to watch the game.”

I heard the outside door open and close and the faint sound of the car leaving for church. Yet, I was transfixed as I sat alone watching the agonizing end of the football game. Seven seconds were left when the Colts Jim O’Brien’s field goal pierced the uprights for a 16-13 lead. Within moments the game was over. I sat dejectedly as my beloved Cowboys left the field as losers. As I sat there on the couch it didn’t take long for me to feel badly about my decision to stay home. As I sat alone on the couch in the stillness of the house, I immediately wished I had done the right thing and gone to church. Perhaps I thought, I was the bigger loser!

My Mom never gave me a lecture when she came home from church with my siblings. She didn’t need to say a word. I knew I had disappointed her and deep down I had disappointed myself. In the years since then I have been grateful to a Mother who let me make a small mistake by exercising my agency and then not lecturing me about it. The spirit did enough teaching inside my soul to sufficiently humble me. I never made a similar mistake. I learned that sports games come and go but doing the “right” thing stays with you!

Elder Earl Tingy, formerly of the Seventy, addressed young people in a CES fireside a few years ago. He presented ten simple truths. One of which was that “agency is essential”. Agency is essential! It is also essential to our salvation to learn from our mistakes. While learning from our mistakes is important, sometimes it is best to not make some mistakes at all, because the consequences of that mistake can be devastating. For example, every young woman doesn’t need to get pregnant out-of-wedlock to learn that this will result in serious ramifications.

As we use our agency we need to remember that all decisions have consequences. If we choose unwisely, consequences will follow from our actions. However, it is never too late to correct our course in life. If we are willing to recognize the error of our ways, then abandon the mistake or sin and humble ourselves before the Lord, we can be forgiven and our slates wiped clean.

I learned from my Mother that agency is important. She allowed me to use it when she knew the consequences were small. I also learned that skipping church for the Super Bowl was not right. I learned what a disgruntled running back of Super Bowl fame once proclaimed, “If it’s the ultimate game, how come they play it again next year!” I am a great sports fan but I have found that a pattern of faithful attendance at church reaps much greater blessings than all the “super” memories that a game could ever bestow.


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