With Real Salt Lake playing their first-ever home Sunday regular season match tomorrow, a shade of controversy has settled over the Salt Lake Valley.
With Salt Lake County being composed predominantly of members of the LDS faith — Mormons, as they're popularly known make up something around 51 percent of the population according to 2013 reports — public events on Sundays become a bit of a controversial occurrence.
While it's not the first home match on a Sunday — that honor belongs to a 2013 playoff match against Portland — it's the first regular season match on the day. That has some people riled enough to start a petition with some moderate support; that, in turn, spawned a counter-petition.
This sort of back-and-forth is indicative of a larger cultural conflict that you see in the greater Salt Lake area, and RadioWest produced an excellent discussion on this topic in 2013.
It's the same cultural conflict that's been around since the early days of Mormon pioneers settling in Utah, with the LDS Church starting the Deseret News in 1850 and a group of ex-Mormons starting the Mormon Tribune in 1870, which later became the Salt Lake Tribune. While the distance between the two news outlets' reporting perspective has narrowed considerably over the 140-plus years of co-mingled existence, owing partly to a joint-operating agreement between the two newspapers and partly to a considerable shift in the role of newspapers in American society, conflict on the basis of religion continues in public opinion.
It's one of the more interesting parts of living in the Salt Lake region, because it produces its fair share of talking points and discussion, no matter the side you find yourself on. But if you're wondering why Real Salt Lake having a home match on Sunday is controversial, its because that was an early point of discussion. It's something the Utah Jazz hold reasonably strong to, avoiding day games whenever possible. (It's something that forces them to play more games on weekdays, which apparently upsets some players. That's not an issue here.)
It's not even that people don't want to watch sports on Sunday — while some hold the opinion that watching such things on Sunday is a violation of religious principles, it's not a set-in-stone thing. Attending a match is where people tend to have a problem, and that's why some people are upset.
It's a nice microcosm of Salt Lake County and Utah as a whole — and it should be a good opportunity to practice civility when you disagree with others.