In 1928, a year after opening its doors to students, Bob Jones College decided to implement intercollegiate sports as a way to share the Gospel and give students an athletic outlet.
The College was located in the swampy area of College Point, Florida, which was the inspiration for the team’s name—the Swamp Angels.
The various sports teams—football, basketball, baseball, track and tennis for the men and basketball for the women—were very successful.
In 1931, the men’s basketball team went undefeated, and the football team lost only one game in four years.
The Swamp Angels did not stop with just athletic excellence, though.
The various high schools and colleges the Swamp Angels played knew of their high Christian standards. The Swampers presented a clear testimony, as expressed by a quote recorded in evangelist Monroe Parker’s memoir.
Parker’s memoir also includes a quote from an opposing team member, who said, “[The Swamp Angels] were the best men I ever saw. They would knock us down and then help us up and say ‘God bless you, buddy.’ We would take God’s name in vain and they would say, ‘We will pray for you, friend.’”
The popularity of the Swamp Angels began to have a negative impact on the school, however.
Students were beginning to attend Bob Jones College with the specific intention to participate on the exceptional sports teams, rather than attend for the academic and spiritual training.
In addition to this issue, because Bob Jones College played so many secular universities, many students would come to the Christian campus to cheer on the opposing team.
This brought many undesirable elements to the school, such as betting and leaving the campus littered with beer and whiskey bottles.
Collectively, these problems prompted the end of the Swamp Angels, and intercollegiate sports, in 1933.
For almost 80 years, intramural sports was the main venue of athletics until Bob Jones University re-established intercollegiate sports in 2012.
Students now have an opportunity that they did not have back in the 1920s as there now are leagues dedicated to promoting Christian testimony and character through sports.
Today, BJU Bruins intercollegiate athletics offer students an opportunity to honor God by exercising their God-given athletic abilities.
Most importantly, intercollegiate athletics create a unique platform to share Christ with unsaved athletes and fans.