OP-ED: Should Athletes Sport Their Faith?

By: KYLAI COOLEY ’16

As an athlete, I am constantly finding myself seeking a fulfillment of the ultimate championship ring or trophy. I know I am not alone. Athletes all over the world are pursuing the highest achievement at their level of play. We hear about prayer before and/or after games, players crediting God after a win and speaking openly about religious convictions all the time.

When it comes to the relationship between faith and athletics, does faith have a place on the sports field?

If you believe in God, there is no getting away from that. He will always be there, no matter where you are. If faith is part of an athlete, it has a place in being a part of the game they play with passion.

Athletes at the professional level today spend time ‘thanking God’ in post-game interviews or conferences. Being in the spotlight – having influence over hundreds of thousands of people – creates an opportunity for these faith-filled athletes to tell others about Jesus. Often times, these press conferences or interviews will be the only time some people ever hear about Jesus, and athletes know this.

Putting athletes on a pedestal just gives them an opportunity to show why they are Christians who participate in sports and not athletes who happen to be Christians.

When you have deep faith – in any religion – one thing is common; you pray or worship continually. As Christians, we use the word of God to validate our actions.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him: Colossians 3:17

Athletes who are able to do this humbly and let their actions speak louder than their words are truly only found far and in between all of the athletes who make claims to living an abundant life of faith.

From the many speculations of people faith is used to justify sports accomplishments.

Pastor Ron Newhouse claims, “God is not our personal weather expert, football strategist, romance matchmaker, or rectifier of our past mistakes. God is God. God is out sovereign, not our servant.”

I could not agree more, faith-filled athletes do not find the ultimate fulfillment in the merry-go-round pursuit of success, their highest desires are met in the vibrant relationship they have with the Lord Jesus Christ. The concept we all need to grasp is faith is transforming the way sports are played. Our athletes are treating their teammates and opponents with the utmost integrity and respect, doing their best with humility, and conducting themselves in a way to glorify Christ Jesus with true class.

Faith and sports can – and will – coexist. It is just a matter of if society is willing to accept it.



Categories: Opinion, Sports

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