Athletes balance religion, sports

Whether it is a football player kneeling in the end zone, a baseball player pointing towards the heavens after a home run or a team gathering for a prayer after a game, religion is in athletics.

Rattler athletes come from all corners of the world. With them they bring their personal interpretations of religion.

Kane Sampson and Douglas Carrington are two Christian athletes with differing beliefs concerning religion and athletics.

“God comes before soccer,” said Sampson, 21, a junior computer information systems student from Edem Ekpat, Nigeria.

He attends services or goes to bible study up to four days a week and gave up his starting spot on a semi-pro soccer team in Jacksonville to fully exercise his religious beliefs.

Carrington, 20, a junior computer/electrical engineering student from Wappingers Falls, N. Y., is a member of the swim team.

He refuses to play sports of any kind on Sunday saying that even if people don’t go to church, it’s a day to rest. He said he would play every other day of the week

Although some students said they would not play on days such as Easter and Christmas because of the significance of these days in the Christian religion, others said they would.

Runner Jasmin Foster, 18, a freshman civil engineering student from Dallas, said she would train or play at any time on any day

Most coaches work with athletes when it comes to their respective religions.

Softball player Erica Williams, 19, a sophomore business student from Lakeland said that she has never been forced to juggle religion and sports.

“The majority of the coaches I’ve had honored religion, giving us (holidays like) Christmas and Easter off,” Williams said.

Letrone Mason, assistant coach for the men’s tennis team, said that he sympathizes with athletes, giving them the day off for religious holidays and letting them be excused from practice.

Mason did indicate, however, that the team “would still have practice, for those who aren’t celebrating”.

While some coaches said that practice would carry on as usual, women’s basketball coach Debra Clark said that she probably would not even hold practice on a day when a large number of her athletes were celebrating a religious holiday.

Baseball coach Joe Durant said he has never been in a situation to decide whether or not to hold practice.

“If a player talks to me and tells me (I’ll understand),” Durant said.

While coaches can control practice times, they usually do not have any control of their game schedules.

Clark, Durant and Mason all said that their teams would not play on religious holidays unless absolutely necessary.

“Sometimes our conference schedule comes out and there is nothing that we can do,” Durant said.