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Sunday Game Policies Evolve for MC Athletics
Balancing involvement in church and competitions, with an eye toward full days off for athletes, is a challenge
Over the years, the Gulf South Conference has started using the full weekend for its athletic events. They have even hosted Championship Sundays such as the one during the men’s basketball tournament last year.
In the beginning of Mississippi College’s athletic history, athletic events were avoided on Sundays in the spirit of keeping the Sabbath holy. Some GSC Christian colleges, such as Lee University, have policies in place about when they can play on Sundays.
However, MC’s policy against Sunday conference games has evolved due to the amount of school that student-athletes were missing during the week. In the past, athletes left on Wednesdays for their Thursday and Saturday matches. This caused them to regularly miss two or three days of class in a week, and the athletes often had class conflicts.
Kevin Johns, Mississippi College men’s head soccer coach, shed light on his side of the athletic events. “We have an unwritten rule. If it is something we can control, we do it after church times on Sundays,” Johns said. “If we can’t, then we go to the athletic department and see if it is okay.”
Jeremy Haworth, head baseball coach, expressed frustration with the fact that baseball does not play many conference games on Sundays. Haworth says that the GSC’s reasoning for not playing on Sundays actually has nothing to do with church but is an effort to give the student-athletes a true day off.
Haworth also provided insight on how he views athletic events appearing on Sundays. “If it is about having to go to a building to see Christ, then we are doing it for all the wrong reasons,” Haworth said. “The church is not a building; it is about all of us. If our teams don’t have that mindset, then we are not doing it for the right purpose. Church can be in the lobby of the hotel. Church can be wherever you are on the road. Church can be wherever you are on the field.”
Haworth also pointed out that many student-athletes worship during the week. MC has different on-campus worship opportunities on Monday nights, and churches have college services on Wednesday nights. “We should be doing (church) Monday through Friday anyway,” Haworth said.
Additionally, a benefit of Sunday games over weeknight games is that more parents are able to travel on Sundays to watch the games.
Kenny Bizot, director of athletics, says that blanket policies regarding Sunday games are ill-advised due to the number of issues they would cause. However, he trusts in his coaching staff to be wise. “What eases my mind about playing Sundays is our coaches’ character and the fact that I believe our coaches are doing some kind of worship, devotion, or something with their teams,” Bizot said.
Bizot also brought up the point that church services occur as early as 8:00 a.m. Attending church at that time is achievable when at home. Bizot believes that in some circumstances it is up to the athletes how much they choose to do. “It really depends on how bad you want it and how bad you want to fit it all in.”
Bizot seems confident Sunday conference games are going nowhere. “It is here to stay in the GSC for sure, and I know that our coaches are handling it with their players in the proper way.”
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