When Nuns Meet Sports
by Jason Plautz

Athletes are rarely shy about their religion, whether they're dedicating their MVP award to God or crossing themselves before stepping to the plate. But still, organized religion generally stays out of sports. After all, when's the last time you saw the Pope and his cardinals go shirts and skins for some pick-up hoops?

Still, I've found that nuns have surprisingly strong ties to athletics. Many hometown nuns cheer on their favorite sports teams, but here are four more ways sisters and sports meet. And I promise I won't use the "nun/none" pun once.

Running Triathlons

sister madonna.jpgYou've heard of the flying nun, but what about the running, swimming and biking nun? Sister Madonna Buder from Spokane has completed 37 marathons, 300 triathlons and 31 Ironman Triathlons. And she didn't even start until she was 50. She first started competing because a family member was battling alcoholism, so she thought she could transfer her will to overcome to the ones in need. Buder takes a distinctly religious approach to running, envisioning the finish line as the Pearly Gates and talks about the angels that once cushioned her nasty fall during the biking portion of a triathlon. The 70-something nun holds her own in the grueling Ironman triathlon and says she trains by running or biking to mass every day.

Providing Super Bowl Lodging

With tickets costing upwards of a thousand dollars, Super Bowl spectators this year didn't have much extra cash to spend on lodging. Enter the Our Lady of Guadalupe monastery, which offered ten rooms at a mere $250 a night with an additional $50 for each extra guest. The sisters hosted both Patriots and Giants fans and offered rather plush accommodations. The monastery was tricked out with a flat-screen TV, a kitchen and a fridge stocked with snacks and sodas. Drinking and smoking wasn't allowed (natch), but the sisters said the location was ideal because it was only three miles away from the University of Phoenix Stadium, but tucked away in a residential neighborhood that allowed guests to stay out of the hubbub surrounding the big game.


sister-jean-kenny.jpgSister Jean Kenny, aka Sister Super Bowl, must have some kind of divine help when it comes to her NFL picks. The Chicago native correctly picked the Bears to win the 1986 Super Bowl and since then has picked 17 of 22 Super Bowl winners. But she doesn't just have a good track record, she also adds a touch of class to the picks by writing poems about each projected winner (read her poem about the 2007 Patriots here). She's been off the last three years, wrongly choosing the Seahawks, Bears and Patriots, but she still sticks by her picks.

Managing Race Horses

Back in 2005, the nuns of New York's Little Sisters of the Poor order received a six-month-old horse as a donation. Rather than raising it, they decided to auction the filly, which they christened Poor Little Sister, off. The auction was a success, but when bidding stalled at $5,000, one of the nuns started upping the bids to make sure they'd net a good amount of money. The horse ended up going for $8,000 and the nuns received 20 percent of the horse's winnings.

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