The Mormon Times web site has information on 18 athletes competing in the current Olympic games who are Latter-day Saints. It is interesting that of the 18, 13 are women (72%). Three of those LDS women are competing in events where women did not compete in the past. There’s a weightlifter, a pole vaulter, and a steeplechase runner; women Olympians first competed in the first two events in the 2000 Sydney games, and women’s steeplechase debuted in Beijing.
So, a large portion of these LDS Olympians are women, and a significant portion of those women compete in sports that have only recently been opened to their participation.
Another interesting thing is the three Mormons on the New Zealand women’s basketball team. Two of them decided not to play on Sundays, and were not available for the team’s final game against the United States. The third Mormon, a sister to one of the two who sat out, chose to play on Sunday with her team.
A few years back, Michael Smith, former professional basketball player, participated in a “Where Are They Now?” interview. He discussed his upbringing missing games on Sunday, and how he leads his family:
That’s the way I’ve instructed my children and taught them so far. They’ve missed volleyball tournaments and soccer games and things of that sort. I think it’s very difficult if you have more than one LDS child on a team and the families don’t believe the same way. It makes it difficult for others to understand how a religion can teach something where one family says, ‘yes’, and the other says, ‘no’.
For a couple months, Michael Smith was my missionary zone leader, but I didn’t meet him in person at that time. He was 400 miles north of my companion and me, so no zone conferences for us. He did send us a couple of friendly letters to keep our spirits up. By the same token, my companion was district leader, and the other two missionaries in our district were 180 miles south of us, so no district meetings either. To top it off, the mission president lived another 400 miles north of the zone leaders. This is probably sounding really nice to many of you; it mostly was.