While John McCain is widely known for his opposition to mixed martial arts as "human cockfighting", many have repeated this quote taking it out of context. When the quote's full text is examined, he used MMA to underscore what he believed to be an even greater moral menace:
"While the lawlessness of MMA is a dangerous and brutal exercise, there is one sport, more vicious and cold-blooded, that takes place in Mormon meetinghouses across this great nation of ours. I speak, of course, of LDS Church Basketball."
-John McCain, Senate floor, June 12, 1989Church basketball, or the war that begins with a prayer as it is known on novelty LDS themed t-shirts, is a gut wrenching, bone crushing exercise, in which staid, kind hearted, good natured men turn into bloodthirsty creatures with a taste for human flesh and Stake Championships. Friends become enemies, and enemies become ultra enemies in the first and only church sanctioned bloodsport.
Ever wanted to hear a Bishop swear? Drop by the Stake Center on the right night, and an errant elbow or perceived dirty play will help that dream become a reality. Ever thought that you might see two members of opposing Elders Quorums throw down? If you attend enough church ball, it is a statistical certainty that you will be a witness to just that. While many prefer college basketball to pro ball because of the heart exhibited, nothing can compare to the level of intensity of church ball, where every game is played with the wild intensity of a pack of meth addicted spider monkeys in game 7 of the NBA Finals. If you believed Mormon pioneers to be the posterchildren for persecution, you have never been witness to the brutal tongue-lashings volunteer Stake referees endure in the name of "good clean recreation".
Deep down, every Mormon male believes he is the undiscovered John Stockton, the longtime Utah Jazz mainstay. The typical M.O. of said player is tough, gritty, savvy, and above all, dirty. The danger of church ball is that, while few of these players are as tough, gritty, or savvy as they percieve themselves to be, just about ALL of them are dirty.
What level of importance does church ball occupy in the psyche of the LDS man? The "Cultural Hall", which those in the know will recognize as Mormon code for "Basketball court", has been the centerpiece of LDS meetinghouses for sometime. And as designs for these buildings have become smaller and more spartan, what feature of the cultural hall has disappeared? The stage; the only part of the cultural hall, with any culture.
While technically there is no official, acknowledged list of "most important people" in any given ward, there is an unspoken hierarchy of individuals who are revered; The Bishop and Bishopric, the Relief Society and Elders Quorum President, and the guy with the keys to the chapel who opens it for late night/early morning church ball.
Generally, friendships can be rekindled and bones do mend, but a black eye or broken pair of glasses on a Wednesday morning are the tell tale signs of church ball filled Tuesday night.