A Blast From the Past: Mormons and the Olympics

KC Kern Mormon 7 Comments

For many Utah latter-day saints, Olympic season brings with it a sense of deep nostalgia. It was six years ago that the world focused in on the Wasatch front, and that the Church began on what would become a path of increasing media attention. However, long before 2002, Mormons had already enjoyed some time in the Olympic spotlight. In 1984, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed at the “Tribute to the Stars” gala preceding the summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles. At those games, LDS church member Peter Vidmar earned two golds and a silver.

What’s even more interesting, is the he was invited to speak in the following general conference, and was introduced and highlighted by President Hinckley. There have been many accomplished LDS athletes since 1984, but we certainly don’t see them rubbing shoulders with GA’s in general conference in this day and age! In fact, there’s a fresh crop of 18 LDS Olympians in China right now. (see here) Will we see any of them at any formal church functions?

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve unearthed some video footage of these events. (Click here) My, how times have changed—in my lifetime, too…and I’m the youngest one here!

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Comments 7

  1. KC,

    Thanks for the memories. I met Peter Vidmar at a fireside when I was 12 or something.

    I assume the athletes who are LDS will be invited to do the fireside or EFY circuit, but I think we won’t see any of them speaking in General Conference. When was the last time a non-General Authority or non-General Officer of the Church spoke in General Conference, much less offered a prayer there? I remember an Aaronic Priesthood holder spoke briefly in priesthood session sometime in the last ten years, but that’s probably it.

  2. I never really did get the LDS obsession with athlete (and celebrity) worship. While admire those folks for their hard work, diligence and effort and for the good (most of the time) example, I don’t see what the big deal is. Why not highlight the folks who really make a difference in the world?

  3. Jeff, it’s just the deep-seated, natural desire to be appreciated – even if it has to be by proxy.

    Btw, I thought the picture must have been a re-enactment of David and Goliath.

  4. Re: I think we won’t see any of them speaking in General Conference

    I miss the opportunities to hear from our worthy priesthood brethren who are in the limelight. Much good can come from examples of training, goal-setting, hard work, peer influence, letting your light shine, bearing testimony. Giving a conference address is a responsibility with great weight, and perhaps its not fair to place that responsibility on someone without the calling of a general authority office.

  5. The start of Mormon Olympians started long before 1984. Alma Richards, of Parowan, Ut, won the gold medal in the high jump in 1912.

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