Athletics and faith nurture

We added a question in our this past week in our Member Community Center about reflecting a Christian perspective in the development of athletic policies and have posted several examples there that schools have graciously shared.

Ron Polinder shares some excellent reflections on “loving” vs. “playing” our opponents in “The Outrageous Idea of Sportsmanship.” At Holland Christian we have turned our school letters HCS into “Honoring Christ through Sportsmanship” and carry a banner to all our home games to remind our players and fans of what is important.

Would you take a minute to share how you have seen a distinctively Christian perspective most effectively integrated into athletics through people, policies, or programs?


Filed under athletics, distinctively Christian

13 responses to “Athletics and faith nurture

  1. I’m interested in seeing more…Just so that you are aware, the Christian Educator’s Association and the Prairie Association of Christian Schools will be holding a “Faith and Learning” session in Calgary AB on Feb. 8/9 on Physical Education. This will involve grade 7-12 teachers in our district. We’ll keep you posted and share information from that session after its completion.

  2. Matt Covey

    This is something that must be addressed by the Athletic Directors towards their coaches. Each coach must realize that he/she is the leader of a situation or event that can and will become emotionally charged. This presents tremendous opportunity to teach participants life lessons from a Christian perspective.

    Athletic Directors should yearly evaluate their coaches in the area of integrating Christ into their coaching. If this isn’t happening we are not meeting our mission through the extra-curricular activities we offer.

  3. It seems to me, from very limited experience of North American Christian school programs, that more thinking needs to be done about the messages that are sent off the field. At a parent meeting for a school sport last year we parents were informed by the coach in very clear terms that the five times a week evening practices were mandatory and took higher priority than “any” other commitment including paid employment – other things would have to be rescheduled, no excuses, and maybe we have a chance to make state.

    I sympathize with coaches trying to work with a shifting population at practices. But now all of a sudden sports practice is more important than work, more important than church commitments or service opportunities, more important than youth groups, more important than family events, and also more important than large homework projects with ill-thought-through deadlines from school colleagues. I have no doubt that the program in question is seeking to teach sportsmanship and also things like dedication and reliability – but what else is being taught about the place of sport in life in the first place?

    There is an element of human nature here. As a language teacher I am naturally quite convinced that language education is the most important thing in the curriculum and in the lives of my students. And reality does not always go along :-). But in the case of sport, there is a wider set of cultural priorities that is being reinforced here.

    I have a son who enjoys sport, and we invest in his passion (while also making clear that there are limits set by the wellbeing of the family), but I question whether this larger question concerning overall student formation is being addressed well.

  4. We are a smaller school making sports opportunities available to all students who are interested. Recently we changed our team selection criteria to include any grade 8 student on the team if they have a good attitude, attend regular practices, and convey a positive attitude/sportsmanship.

    This inclusiveness is put to the test when a team is in contention for a trophy. Will all players still be played or will the “weaker” players be benched so they don’t become a liability? If it is “team” then the team should be the focus – the challenge is to have a coach give equal opportunity to each player to contribute. You don’t know what a player is capable of under pressure unless you give him/her the opportunity and the experience. Somehow it is too easy to lose sight of the idea that it’s the playing that counts not the winning. If it is winning, then at what cost to individual players who thought they were chosen to be part of the team?

  5. I enjoyed participating in athletics during grades 8-12, and I’ve enjoyed coaching middle school and high school teams. Living in Japan, I have the opportunity to learn how other cultures approach co-curricular sports and to reflect on how North Americans handle co-curricular sports.

    I’m beginning to wonder:
    * What would happen if the purpose of co-curricular sports was a clearly function of the school’s mission? This would mean asking, “What will best equip students to impact the world for Christ?” instead of “What will help us win?” and “How can we strive for excellence?”
    * What would happen if co-curricular sports were perceived as non-transcripted classes, complete with a curriculum, including the integration of faith and learning?

    If co-curricular sports were clearly a function of the school’s mission and perceived as a non-transcripted class, how might this impact how we respond to issues like level of commitment and degree of participation in a game?

  6. Christina Ghiotto

    I have participated in various kinds of athletic events while attending K-12 and most of college in public schools. When we did play a Christian school the team would say a prayer in the middle of the court or field and generally ask us if we would join them. However, even when we denied the invitation they respected our decision most of the time. The schools that did not take kindly to our team’s choice needed to learn to respect other team’s boundaries and preferences. Another advantage would be to always remember that their Christian perspective is not always followed by everyone and that they should follow through with different policies concerning their slighted actions.

  7. Patrick

    I am a Christian athlete. When I was young I played both soccer and basketball in various park district leagues. As I began to develop my skills I joined different traveling teams in hopes to enhance my performance in both sports. I continued on to participate in soccer and basketball at my public high school. Throughout my adolescent and teen years my religious beliefs were not integrated in my involvement in athletics. Although I considered myself a religious person, I was unable to incorporate my love of God into sports.
    While attending Trinity Christian College I linked these two together. As a member of the men’s soccer team at Trinity I learned how my love for God could enhance my athletic performance. Trinity provided me guidance and education to infuse faith throughout all aspects of my life. Team prayer was a significant difference at Trinity compared to my previous athletic involvement. Trinity Christian College and its soccer programs have done an excellent job in developing Christian athletes. I am proud to be a Christian athlete and plan to become a coach. I hope to guide my future players to make the link between Christ and athletics.

  8. I am and AD for a Christian school in FL, and I would love to read “The Outrageous Idea of Sportsmanship” but the URL is not working (404 Not Found).
    Would you please send it to me?


  9. Angela

    As followers of Christ, it is essential to integrate our faith into all of life… because upon our declaration of faith in Jesus as our Savior, we accepted the call of living our life with the acknowledgement that it is no longer our own. To separate our faith from athletics, work, scholastic studies, family/friend relationships, or our casual day-to-day interactions with others is inconsistent with our claim. Being a Believer in Christ as our Savior; I believe, is synonymous with Him also being our Lord. What a powerful witness to the unbelieving to play beyond the unwritten rules of “good sportsmanship” and play with an attitude of Christ-likeness! “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…” -Hebrews 12:1

  10. Peter Zigterman

    I played basketball at Timothy Christian high school and one thing that we did to integrate a Christian perspective into the basketball games was to have a player prayer over the loudspeaker prior to each home game. I also currently play basketball at Trinity Christian College. Here there not necessarily an outward reminder such as a prayer over the loudspeaker like in high school. Privately as a team, however, our coach constantly reminds us throughout the year about what is truly important in life. Bible studies are worked into our busy practice schedule and coach makes it a point to talk to us many times over the course of the season about different aspects of our faith and stresses their importance. It is a great reminder that while we are all trying to win basketball games, in the end that is not what is most important.

  11. Meagan Scartozzi

    Growing up playing sports I was always encouraged to show good sportsmanship to other teams and my own team members. I think in order to show your sportsmanship it comes from the coaches, then, to the captains which is then displayed throughout the rest of the team members. A good way I have seen this done effectively is through the power of prayer. I play soccer at a Christian college and we make it a point before the game to remind our teammates that we are playing for him. I think it is a good idea to do devotions before a game as well because this helps bring the team together to focus on the important things in life. After playing the game we ask the team we have just played if they would be interested in praying with us and if someone from their team would be willing to open and one of our members would finish the pray.

    The power of being able to interact with someone through a common love is a big deal and to be able to do this just through a sport says a lot. I recently went on a mission’s trip to Costa Rica and I was surprised to see how willing the other teams we played were to opening up to us. It’s good to know that difference can be put to the side and people are willing to hear what you have to say.

  12. Bethany Hamstra

    Well I have gone to a Christian school my entire life, and so the athletics always had something faith based about them. We would do devotions with the team before every game. We would pray before every game. And now in college, if we play another Christian team, we gather together at the end of the game to pray with each other. My coaches especially through out my schooling so far have had the greatest impact on integrating our Christian faith and the competitive nature of sports together. Now, especially that I’m in college, we have different policies. We’re expected to act different. Because we not only represent ourselves, but our team and our school as well.

  13. Christina Velderman

    All of my life I have attended a Christian school from preschool until 12th grade it was at Holland Christian and I remember all that we did at our sports events with the banners and songs that we sang even the way that we acted was something that I noticed is different from a public school. I attend Trinity Christian College now and I still can see the difference between the way we cheer on our team compared to the way a non religious college reacts at a game. I remember just this past winter I was at a mens basketball game and my friends and I were cheering on the Trolls when a mother and a father of a player from the other team came up to us and told us that even though we are Christians and we talk all Christian like that does not mean that we are better. I was silent from then on because I just had no explanation to what he had said to me and my friends. I think that Christians schools do get overly big headed and they can go into a sports event thinking that because God is on there side that they will win and that is wrong. For others around us that listen to us cheer on or fellow Christian Athletes I think it is a wonderful thing for them to hear because they can see that yes we do put our trust in God but he is not going to allow us to win over another team. Winning a sports even is not about whether or not you believe in God it’s about how well you play the game and how well you can play the game with teammates and other apponents.

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