Saturday, September 3, 2011

Clergy, Tennis, and the New York Times

It had never occurred to me to associate the clergy with tennis, but The New York Times has done so twice in two days: in Friday's sports section, a piece on Father Paul Arinze, director of vocations for the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, and umpire at the U.S. Open; in Saturday's "Beliefs", a piece on Christianity and competitive sports, featuring the Episcopalian seminarian Sam Owen.

The Roman Catholic priesthood here has often had athletic tendencies--in one of J.F. Powers's short stories, the unathletic Father Burner says, "scratch a prelate and you'll find a second baseman." Commonly, as the remark implies, their sports, when young, have been the mainstay American team sports, baseball, football, and basketball. Edward Malloy, CSC, president of the University of Notre Dame from 1986 to 2005, started on a very good high school basketball team. Grown older, they seem to have inclined to golf. Tennis, though, I hadn't heard of among them.

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