Maranatha Baptist University ends football program

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Bert Perry's picture

First, the sad; I was thinking as I walked to work today about how football teaches some good life lessons, things corresponding to a spiritual battle.  You can't just do three yards and a cloud of dust and expect to win the Rose Bowl, as Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler demonstrated many times.  There is a degree where you can make small or huge gains.  Strategy and intellect matters, as does raw physical ability, and all that.

But that said, it's a good decision simply because football's an expensive sport with huge liabilities (knees, concussions), and you can learn a lot of the same lessons in other sports, especially team sports.  I tried to run cross country & track in college (not good enough it turned out), and I just got a legal notice saying that I could participate in the NCAA's concussion settlement--OK, never got thumped on the head while running, so I won't, but that's the legal place programs find themselves.  Good on Maranatha to stick to their core mission.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Rob Fall's picture

to learn. Back in the day, MBBC played the smaller Lutheran and RCC schools. I saw them as a replay of the 30 Years War. The Baptists even won some of the times.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

TylerR's picture

Editor

Very interesting, how institutions from your formative years still exert a pull on you. For many Maranatha grads, this is sad news. I couldn't care less; not because I'm a cold-hearted snake, but because I never went to college there. I went to Seminary - virtually. The undergrad programs have no sentimental hold on me. The Seminary does.

I went into the military instead of going to college. For me, the formative institution is the US Navy. I follow All Hands on FaceBook, and my previous commands, too. I get upset at policy changes, uniform shifts, etc. In short, I act like MBU grads do when the football program gets canceled.

All of us have formative institutions which helped shape us. For some, it was their undergrad college. For me, it was the military. It sounds like MBU has been struggling with its football program for a while.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jim's picture

TylerR wrote:
For me, the formative institution is the US Navy. I follow All Hands on FaceBook, and my previous commands, too. I get upset at policy changes, uniform shifts, etc.

Trump by executive action folded the Navy under the USMC. Ha ha!

Paul J. Scharf's picture

I gave 10 falls in total to the Maranatha football program, including four that helped to shape and define the person that I am today.

This news was not unexpected, but I still shed a few tears after I read it. I feel like a small part of me died yesterday.

Football did far more for me than I ever did for football and—no—I do not believe that there is any other sport that teaches the same life lessons. Thanks Coaches Price, Morrison and Malmanger, all my coaches and all my teammates for memories that will never be forgotten and lessons that I apply every single day.

We love football!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

TylerR's picture

Editor

When I'd been in the Navy about four months, I was doing military police training down at Lackland AFB. I was having a conversation with a Marine in the PX.

I casually said to him, "You do know the Marines are just a department of the Navy, right?"

He replied, "Yeah - the men's department."

He walked away, and I stood there, crushed. That is still one of the funniest things that has ever happened to me.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Rob Fall's picture

MBU's men's soccer team has been at the top of their competition.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

pvawter's picture

My first thought when I heard the announcement was that there would be no alumni game this fall. My bruised ribs are happy about that, but I'm gonna miss it. I'm grateful for the opportunity that Maranatha football provided me and many other young men over the past decades.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Very sensible and wise move.  The players are more at-risk to injury and concussions if they are playing schools that are larger and more advanced (weight training, speed and agility training, experienced players, and etc...).  And if your pipeline for finding players is much much smaller (80% of Maranatha students come from Christian high schools and home schooling without football teams), that really limits the growth and development of the football program because you are starting from a whole different level.  

I am with Paul that football teaches life lessons like no other sport.  I have seen this through my son, who has played on competitive levels with basketball, soccer, track and field, and football.  That's not to take anything away from these other team sports.    

 

Paul J. Scharf's picture

... football teaches life lessons like no other sport.

Indeed. As an offensive tackle, you know that if you fail to do your job on a given play your quarterback or running back may need to be carted off the field. I am not sure you can learn a lesson like that, for instance, by running track.

During my playing career at MBBC (1987-90), I was blessed to be part of a team that went from the bottom to a conference co-championship in my senior year. At least as I remember it, the atmosphere at the games was comparable to a vibrant high school football game. Students took an interest and ownership in the team (we had both official and impromptu cheerleaders and a pep band), and people from the community and area churches would come out, as well.

I was a volunteer and a coach from 2000 to 2004, being blessed again to help coach a division champion in 2002, when we lost the conference championship to Northwestern College (MN) in the Metrodome. By then, there seemed to me to be a slight drop-off in attendance and interest. As coaches, we would spend many hours on the bus, into the wee hours of Sunday morning, discussing how we might suggest improvements, having just come from our experience at another school.

In recent years, it has not been the same—despite the best efforts of Coach Nate Spate and many others. Home games (even the alumni game) have been very poorly attended. Students today are much more mobile and they are plugged into technology, and—as noted above—many may not even realize the significance of "the football game." I am sure that there are many reasons that brought it to this point, likely including some of which I am not aware.

My experience with Maranatha football was truly one of the highlights of my life. As my mother said to me after I heard the news, "You have to be thankful that you got to be part of it." I am sorry that others will not have the same opportunity.

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

GregH's picture

I gotta say I would be with the students who don't even realize the significance of "the football game." Football is not significant. It just is not. No sports are.

I am sure that you can learn life lessons from sports. I am also sure that sports are a poor replacement for what kids did before sports: work. I am not one to pine for the old days but I have to believe that evening chores and work on the farm taught a lot better life lessons. As civilization became more urbanized and the need for children working lessened, along came sports to fill the void. They replaced something that was significant with games that emulate significance but are not in themselves significant at all. I don't think that was really a step in the right direction.

Andrew K's picture

GregH wrote:

I gotta say I would be with the students who don't even realize the significance of "the football game." Football is not significant. It just is not. No sports are.

I am sure that you can learn life lessons from sports. I am also sure that sports are a poor replacement for what kids did before sports: work. I am not one to pine for the old days but I have to believe that evening chores and work on the farm taught a lot better life lessons. As civilization became more urbanized and the need for children working lessened, along came sports to fill the void. They replaced something that was significant with games that emulate significance but are not in themselves significant at all. I don't think that was really a step in the right direction.

You sound like a terrible curmudgeon. And I totally agree with you.

Those who might disagree, try to think of some reason why your justifications wouldn't apply just as well to video games, like MMPORGs if you want teamwork and strategy (massively multiplayer online roleplaying games), or just classic board games. I mean aside from the lack of cultural cache in our sports-obsessed society. Yet we're not subsidizing them.

Jim Barnes's picture

What is the big deal about MBU closing it's football program? How many other fundamental baptist colleges have football programs? Building a solid basketball program is the way to go. 

Rob Fall's picture

bulletin from MBU, the school already has solid basketball, soccer, baseball\soft ball, volleyball and cross country programs. And then there is the ROTC Ranger competition, which MBU has taken honors in over the last few years.

Jim Barnes wrote:

What is the big deal about MBU closing its football program? How many other fundamental baptist colleges have football programs? Building a solid basketball program is the way to go. 

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Joel Shaffer's picture

Andrew K wrote:

 

GregH wrote:

 

I gotta say I would be with the students who don't even realize the significance of "the football game." Football is not significant. It just is not. No sports are.

I am sure that you can learn life lessons from sports. I am also sure that sports are a poor replacement for what kids did before sports: work. I am not one to pine for the old days but I have to believe that evening chores and work on the farm taught a lot better life lessons. As civilization became more urbanized and the need for children working lessened, along came sports to fill the void. They replaced something that was significant with games that emulate significance but are not in themselves significant at all. I don't think that was really a step in the right direction.

 

 

You sound like a terrible curmudgeon. And I totally agree with you.

Those who might disagree, try to think of some reason why your justifications wouldn't apply just as well to video games, like MMPORGs if you want teamwork and strategy (massively multiplayer online roleplaying games), or just classic board games. I mean aside from the lack of cultural cache in our sports-obsessed society. Yet we're not subsidizing them.

You can't create the literal pain and sacrifice for one another that goes with the teamwork in a video game. There is a brotherhood that develops that a roleplaying video game cannot emulate.  You are not bringing your body to the brink with a roleplaying video game.    Football brought my son out of his shell (he is quite introverted) to become the leader of 35 other young  high school men.  Through football he's also learned there are no shortcuts, to be selfless, to finish something you start, to be disciplined, how to push others, to be a follower, how to compete, and etc....reinforcing many of the character traits that we've been teaching him throughout his life.  

Andrew K's picture

Joel Shaffer wrote:

 

Andrew K wrote:

 

 

GregH wrote:

 

I gotta say I would be with the students who don't even realize the significance of "the football game." Football is not significant. It just is not. No sports are.

I am sure that you can learn life lessons from sports. I am also sure that sports are a poor replacement for what kids did before sports: work. I am not one to pine for the old days but I have to believe that evening chores and work on the farm taught a lot better life lessons. As civilization became more urbanized and the need for children working lessened, along came sports to fill the void. They replaced something that was significant with games that emulate significance but are not in themselves significant at all. I don't think that was really a step in the right direction.

 

 

You sound like a terrible curmudgeon. And I totally agree with you.

Those who might disagree, try to think of some reason why your justifications wouldn't apply just as well to video games, like MMPORGs if you want teamwork and strategy (massively multiplayer online roleplaying games), or just classic board games. I mean aside from the lack of cultural cache in our sports-obsessed society. Yet we're not subsidizing them.

 

 

You can't create the literal pain and sacrifice for one another that goes with the teamwork in a video game. There is a brotherhood that develops that a roleplaying video game cannot emulate.  You are not bringing your body to the brink with a roleplaying video game.    Football brought my son out of his shell (he is quite introverted) to become the leader of 35 other young  high school men.  Through football he's also learned there are no shortcuts, to be selfless, to finish something you start, to be disciplined, how to push others, to be a follower, how to compete, and etc....reinforcing many of the character traits that we've been teaching him throughout his life.  

You've clearly never talked to a serious gamer. Wink

Bert Perry's picture

Sorry, but while I think american football can teach life lessons, "like no other sport" is stretching it a bit.   Nah, it's stretching it a lot.   If it were true, you'd see gridiron greats dominating in business, politics, and the like.  Apart from guys like Roger Staubach, John Elway, and Jack Kemp, that simply isn't true.  What you see, rather, is that those who play the game at the D1 or NFL level have a median age of death of 56 due to various factors, and NFL players are, by and large, broke by their early 40s.  

You can see the signs of what's going wrong back in college--when I was lurking in Jenison Fieldhouse back in my college days, I got to see who was, and who was not, on the athletic department's academic honor roll.  Track and field and cross country were well represented, as were gymnastics and hockey-- but the football team was not, despite counting 4x as many members as most other teams.  They did rank highly, however, in the portion of athletes with iffy degree programs, in the portion of athletes who would not graduate at all, and among arrestees at the East Lansing police department.  You'll see about the same at most any D1 school, and quite frankly at most high schools where administration treats football players with kid gloves, and as a result a lot of them get quite a bit of an entitlement mentality, one that hurts them a LOT in life.

And really, if you want to see consequences to messing up in athletics, think of relay handoffs in track or swimming, hurdle or pole vault setup in track, missing a pick or check in basketball, real football (a.k.a. "soccer") , or hockey, missing a pass in basketball, real football or hockey, saddle mounting in equestrian events, equipment setup in just about any sport, rule compliance in any sport (e.g. Usain Bolt's loss of a gold medal because his relay teammate was doping) ....let's get real here; the big difference between the consequences of american football and other activities is that american football players are a lot more likely to have lifelong injuries.  

Call me weird, but I consider that a bad thing.  It's awfully nice at almost 48 years old to have two intact knees and an intact brain, and it's a shame that too many football players can't say that.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

pvawter's picture

Playing football at MBU meant a great deal to me, in part because it connected me with a tradition stretching all the way back to Dr. Myron Cedarholm. It was a picture of him lining up to kick a football at the University of Minnesota that I saw every day coming out of the weight room, after all. The tenacity and perseverance that marked Dr. Cedarholm's life and ministry was exemplified by his commitment to having a football team at Maranatha. It's a shame that this tradition has been lost.

pvawter's picture

My freshman year, one of my teammates played against his own dad in the alumni scrimmage. How many people could say that?
The last 4 years I had the privilege of playing alongside the man who taught my 3rd & 4th grade Sunday School class in the alumni scrimmage. How many people could say that?

We're talking about a full contact, full gear scrimmage, not 2-hand touch. For nearly 50 years, there was nothing in the world like Maranatha football.

Ron Bean's picture

I spent nearly 20 years playing, coaching, and officiating football and I learned a lot. I learned that participation is limited by physical attributes. I learned that, in order to be really good, you have to have an aggressive mentality that is willing to possibly physically injure another person, within the rules of course. I learned that it's a sport that few men play beyond high school and far fewer beyond college.

I'm a strong proponent of competitive sports and believe that the best sports are the ones you can participate in the rest of your life. A number of years ago I was the athletic director of a very small Christian school. We tried basketball but got tired of being slaughtered. Then someone suggested cross country running. We participated in large public school meets and also ran in weekend 5K races. The sportsmanship and camaraderie was wonderful. I made my youngest son participate so that we could have the 5 necessary for a team. In our first public school race (400+ runners) he came in dead last but smiling at the cheers and the fact that he'd run the entire race without stopping and had passed runners who quit. That was about 15 years ago. He's currently competing in triathlons, and half and full marathons.

And let's face it, running is a sport that promoted in the Scripture.

My oldest son who is currently a Navy officer and still running, wrote this article for SI a while ago. It's still worth reading:

http://sharperiron.org/article/curious-fellowship-of-distance-athlete

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Joel Shaffer's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Sorry, but while I think american football can teach life lessons, "like no other sport" is stretching it a bit.   Nah, it's stretching it a lot.   If it were true, you'd see gridiron greats dominating in business, politics, and the like.  Apart from guys like Roger Staubach, John Elway, and Jack Kemp, that simply isn't true.  What you see, rather, is that those who play the game at the D1 or NFL level have a median age of death of 56 due to various factors, and NFL players are, by and large, broke by their early 40s.  

You can see the signs of what's going wrong back in college--when I was lurking in Jenison Fieldhouse back in my college days, I got to see who was, and who was not, on the athletic department's academic honor roll.  Track and field and cross country were well represented, as were gymnastics and hockey-- but the football team was not, despite counting 4x as many members as most other teams.  They did rank highly, however, in the portion of athletes with iffy degree programs, in the portion of athletes who would not graduate at all, and among arrestees at the East Lansing police department.  You'll see about the same at most any D1 school, and quite frankly at most high schools where administration treats football players with kid gloves, and as a result a lot of them get quite a bit of an entitlement mentality, one that hurts them a LOT in life.

And really, if you want to see consequences to messing up in athletics, think of relay handoffs in track or swimming, hurdle or pole vault setup in track, missing a pick or check in basketball, real football (a.k.a. "soccer") , or hockey, missing a pass in basketball, real football or hockey, saddle mounting in equestrian events, equipment setup in just about any sport, rule compliance in any sport (e.g. Usain Bolt's loss of a gold medal because his relay teammate was doping) ....let's get real here; the big difference between the consequences of american football and other activities is that american football players are a lot more likely to have lifelong injuries.  

Call me weird, but I consider that a bad thing.  It's awfully nice at almost 48 years old to have two intact knees and an intact brain, and it's a shame that too many football players can't say that.

First of all, the comparison I was making was not with NFL or division 1 players.  We are talking small college football (which is what Maranatha was part of) and high school football.  The overwhelming majority of football players will not get to the level that you are making comparisons with.    As for concussions, I think you are using data that is very old.  The past 10 years, youth football, most high schools and now even NAIA, division II and III colleges play "heads up" football. The change has helped create a significant drop in concussions in Michigan.   At my son's high school, we teach more rugby style tackling (Pete Carroll of the Seahawks has pioneered it in the NFL) because it is safer, not only with helping prevent concussions, but also helping prevent knee or ankle injuries.  

Of course there is an entitlement mentality in division 1 schools.  The football players are the "ATM machines" for the universities.   But to say that football players aren't really the leaders of our world simply is not true either.   When I did research, I found that the CEOs of 95% of fortune 500 companies had played competitive college sports, including a number of them in football.  Most of them weren't going to the power 5 football teams where they would be coddled, but rather places known for their academics like Dartmouth, Harvard, John Hopkins, but there was even a few from Michigan as well.    

There are probably some schools in high school that treat football players with kid gloves, but there are many who don't.  The atmosphere for whether this happens is directly correlated with the coaching staff. If the coaches are primarily attempting to use football as a means to mentor teen boys into young men with strong character and where winning is more of a byproduct, then the players will not be coddled.    The school that my son plays football for expelled one of its star players from school and football when he got drunk and attacked and beat up a basketball player.  This guy was a DII prospect whose older brother plays for Michigan St.  That decision probably cost my son's team to miss the playoffs, but it had to be done.   The decision was a coordination between the principal, guidance counselor, and football coaches.  All of them were on the same page, realizing that it had to be done and the student body and football players respected it. 

As for why I hold to why football is like no other sport comes from talking to many multi-sport athletes throughout the years.  Nearly all of them said this.  That they had never really experienced brotherhood and really understood teamwork at a deeper level until they played football.    

Our family is quite invested into football because my son not only has played competitive football since he was 3rd grade, but is a 2018 football prospect that will probably get a scholarship from a college or university to play football.  He has received interest from schools from all levels including lower division 1, division 2, division 3, and NAIA (such as Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Oberlin, Wayne St.,  Ferris St., Hope, Mount Union, Wheaton, Trinity, and Olivet Nazarene)  A few of these schools don't give the athletic scholarships but rather give scholarships for academics and leadership in which he has also excelled.   Let me also say that Jalen has never had a concussion or had "his bell rung," or had a knee or leg injury playing football even though he plays Running Back and Linebacker where the most contact takes place.   In fact, any injury that he has had growing up came from basketball, not football.  Now we realize that injuries and concussions could happen and if somehow he received a bad injury or concussion that would end his football career, he'd miss it, but he'd be fine with it because his identity is not football but rather Jesus.  

        

Steve Davis's picture

Andrew K wrote:

GregH wrote:

I gotta say I would be with the students who don't even realize the significance of "the football game." Football is not significant. It just is not. No sports are.

I am sure that you can learn life lessons from sports. I am also sure that sports are a poor replacement for what kids did before sports: work. I am not one to pine for the old days but I have to believe that evening chores and work on the farm taught a lot better life lessons. As civilization became more urbanized and the need for children working lessened, along came sports to fill the void. They replaced something that was significant with games that emulate significance but are not in themselves significant at all. I don't think that was really a step in the right direction.

You sound like a terrible curmudgeon. And I totally agree with you.

Those who might disagree, try to think of some reason why your justifications wouldn't apply just as well to video games, like MMPORGs if you want teamwork and strategy (massively multiplayer online roleplaying games), or just classic board games. I mean aside from the lack of cultural cache in our sports-obsessed society. Yet we're not subsidizing them.

I don't think I am as curmudgeonly as you guys. However, we do need to recognize that sports on the high school and college level seems fairly unique to the US. I can't speak for all countries but I am thinking of what we saw in Europe. Students go to high school and university, well, for school, to study. Sports were organized in local communities (mostly soccer or real football as they call it). The point is that schools there generally do not build sports facilities - no fields, no stadium, no pools. When we lived in the Philly suburbs our school district built a new high school north of 100 million. Why so much? Pools, fields, stadium, etc. Most which doesn't benefit the average student except as spectator. And of course higher property taxes. I think I prefer the European model. Go to school for school. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I don't know how to play football. I don't even know how score is kept. No joke.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Andrew K's picture

Steve Davis wrote:

 

Andrew K wrote:

 

GregH wrote:

I gotta say I would be with the students who don't even realize the significance of "the football game." Football is not significant. It just is not. No sports are.

I am sure that you can learn life lessons from sports. I am also sure that sports are a poor replacement for what kids did before sports: work. I am not one to pine for the old days but I have to believe that evening chores and work on the farm taught a lot better life lessons. As civilization became more urbanized and the need for children working lessened, along came sports to fill the void. They replaced something that was significant with games that emulate significance but are not in themselves significant at all. I don't think that was really a step in the right direction.

You sound like a terrible curmudgeon. And I totally agree with you.

Those who might disagree, try to think of some reason why your justifications wouldn't apply just as well to video games, like MMPORGs if you want teamwork and strategy (massively multiplayer online roleplaying games), or just classic board games. I mean aside from the lack of cultural cache in our sports-obsessed society. Yet we're not subsidizing them.

 

 

I don't think I am as curmudgeonly as you guys. However, we do need to recognize that sports on the high school and college level seems fairly unique to the US. I can't speak for all countries but I am thinking of what we saw in Europe. Students go to high school and university, well, for school, to study. Sports were organized in local communities (mostly soccer or real football as they call it). The point is that schools there generally do not build sports facilities - no fields, no stadium, no pools. When we lived in the Philly suburbs our school district built a new high school north of 100 million. Why so much? Pools, fields, stadium, etc. Most which doesn't benefit the average student except as spectator. And of course higher property taxes. I think I prefer the European model. Go to school for school. 

It's the European model. It's the Asian model. It's the Everywhere-but-the-States model. Except in schools where they're deliberately imitating the US model. At my last overseas school, American PE teachers were busy trying to guilt parents and teachers into coming to student athletic events, ala the American model. I supervised some of the debate team events. Where was the pressure for parents to attend some of those? No one cared. What school money was spent on those? They were mostly all student-funded. Apparently you don't learn "Important Life-Lessons" on a debate team.

Jim's picture

Speaking of my non-Christian HS experience:

The "jocks" were by and large giant fornicating jerks! One of my peers later became a Dentist and murdered his wife.

in terms of character building: the handful of men whom I know that served with my son in combat are some of the finest young men I've ever met

Andrew K's picture

Jim wrote:

Speaking of my non-Christian HS experience:

The "jocks" were by and large giant fornicating jerks! One of my peers later became a Dentist and murdered his wife.

in terms of character building: the handful of men whom I know that served with my son in combat are some of the finest young men I've ever met

Completely agreed. Serving in a rural public school now, I can see nothing that transforms the lives of young white men from miserable backgrounds than a stint in the service. Works absolute wonders.

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