Olympics squads lose every match … and their faith

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Luciana Mendoza of Argentina, left, and Sim Hae-In of South Korea compete in the women's preliminary group B handball game on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Luciana Mendoza of Argentina, left, and Sim Hae-In of South Korea compete in the women's preliminary group B handball game on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

RIO DE JANEIRO (RNS) They prayed and prayed and prayed even more. Then they arrived at the Olympics and promptly lost every match. Did God have it in for them?

If the divine does play favorites in sports, the Argentine women’s handball team and the Mexican men’s volleyball team certainly aren’t the chosen. Now the entire rosters of both teams are throwing in the towel on their Christian faith.

“Six hail marys and six stinking losses,” said Argentine coach Eduardo Peruchena. He estimated his handballers spent a combined sixty-six hours in meditation and prayer in the week directly leading up to their first match. “Since the prayers obviously  didn’t make any difference, maybe less time on our knees and more practicing would’ve helped.”

The Argentine team was bested by the women from Russia, South Korea, Sweden, Netherlands and France. “These are some of the most secular nations on Earth,” Peruchena noted. “We’re pretty confident our opponents weren’t even asking God anything. If he couldn’t pull in some favors for his own, we won’t be favoring him anymore.”

Mexican coach Jorge Azair agreed, but wanted to look to the future. “When we compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, we’ll be competing as atheists.”

As athletes on the medal podiums continue to cite their faith in God as reason for their success, losers are left behind with double the despair: not only did they come up short, but they’re then told the Almighty was holding the measuring stick the whole time.

Azair shared with The Literalist his advice for all the athletes in Rio:

Beat us at the net, beat us with your serve, beat us with your blocking. Go get your gold medal. Just lay off attributing your success to the divine, alright? It won’t spoil your victory, and it might save us losers some existential doubt.