Why Mormons Should Root For the Ramblers in the NCAA Tournament

So there are four teams left: Kansas, Villanova, Michigan, and Loyola University Chicago. And as Mormons, you should probably be cheering for Loyola this weekend. Why? Let me count the reasons:

Your team’s out anyway

I mean, unless you’re a fan of Kansas, Villanova, or Michigan, in which case I assume you’ll be rooting against Loyola (though you can still cheer for the Ramblers!). But there are no Mormon-adjacent schools left. BYU? Never been to the Final Four. (In fact, it holds the kind of depressing record for most trips to the tournament without making the Final Four.)

University of Utah? Last time they made the Final Four was in 1998 (and I remember that tournament: one of my roommates at the time was a huge U fan; I’m not entirely sure how he ended up at BYU, except probably peer pressure on his mission. He eventually repented (or sinned, depending on your alma mater) and ended up graduating from the University of Utah). Utah state? Hasn’t been. So you don’t have to worry about rooting for a Mormon-related school.

Underdogs FTW!

Let’s see, we have a No. 1 seed, a No. 1 seed, a No. 3 seed, and a … No. 11 seed. In fact, no team higher than 11 has ever gone to the Final Four, and Loyola’s only the forth 11 seed to go. Like an underdog story? This is a pretty good one.

The Motto

Loyola’s motto, “Ad majorem Dei gloriam” (“For the greater glory of God”) should resonate with us. Loyola is a Jesuit school, and deeply steeped in Jesuit spirituality.

And it has a history of pursuing justice for the greater glory of God. In the early 1960s, Loyola broke with the unwritten rule of not starting more than three African American players. In 1963, Loyola’s one national championship, Loyola started four African American players. (It was radical enough that the Mississippi State team they beat during the tournament defied a state injunction meant to prevent them from playing an integrated team.) (For more context on the Game of Change, look here.)

Sister Jean

Seriously, who wouldn’t want a 98-year-old nun like Sister Jean as their team’s chaplain? (BTW, it looks like there’ll be a pretty good supply of Sister Jean swag available for fans to purchase!)

Make Basketball Fun Again

I get that I’m biased (after all, I do work at Loyola). But basically everybody else agrees, too: Loyola’s fun to watch. They have great shooting percentages, they play selflessly, passing the ball around, and, whether they won with a miracle shot in the final seconds or they won by a double-digit score, their playing is joyful.


  1. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Back when Loyola had a dental school the Westchester Ward was lousy with Loyola dental students–at least two members of the bishopric back when my parents were there ’79-’82–so there’s a history there.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    I’ve been rooting for them. In part a Chicago thing, in part a Jesuit thing (IE a religious school), in part Sister Jean, in part an underdog thing, and in part having friends who went to school there and are super excited. They’ve been a lot of fun to watch.

  3. In real sports news. Opening Day is Thursday. :)

  4. President Monson always cheered for Michigan, so that’s good enough for me. (Okay, I have other reasons to cheer for them.)

  5. Fun post now. I think I can cheer now for anyone except Villanova.

  6. My kids on the bandwagon because they think you’re Griffendor.

  7. Larry the Cable Guy says:

    Sister Jean rules. That being said — Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

  8. Not happening. (But still happy for you Sam.) Rock chalk!!!

  9. Jayhawkers and red legs are terms that came to prominence just before the American Civil War in Bleeding Kansas, where they were adopted by militant bands affiliated with the free-state cause during the American Civil War, a freedom fighting movement against slavery and in favor of individual liberty. These gangs were guerrilla fighters who often clashed with pro-slavery groups from Missouri known at the time as “Border Ruffians”. After the Civil War, the word “Jayhawker” became synonymous with the people of Kansas.[1] Today a modified version of the term, Jayhawk, is used as a nickname for a native-born Kansan,[2][3][4] but more typically for a student, fan, or alumnus of the University of Kansas.

  10. I’m with you, Sam. BYU needs a Sister Jean. I don’t really think your Ramblers have much of a chance, but it’s more fun to cheer for the underdog, so I’ll be rooting for them. Any Catholic school that would hire you can’t be all bad!

  11. Kristin Brown says:

    May the best team win! If it can’t be Kansas may it be Loyola. I’m all for the underdog unless they are playing my team. Like “p” said, Jayhawks stood for Civil Rights. Also, KU plays in the Allen Field house named after Phog Allen. He was the driving force behind basketball being made an Olympic event. So, if you root for Kansas you are rooting for America. Saying that, it is American to see the underdog win. Until we are out….Rock chalk!

  12. BYU needs to find a 98 year old former Relief Society president .

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