Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sports and Faith in the Classroom

I have been talking to various Christian churches and schools to promote our latest book, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey. Many administrators tell me that they believe their sports programs ought to do a better job of including a faith component in their Christian settings. In short, they believe athletic training ought to be turning out kids who are not only stronger physically, but stronger in their faith.

People talk about the bad behavior in sports and they say there is no doubt that Christian programs ought to be doing much better. However, there are many good programs that don't get credit. At Sporing Chance Press, when we were working with Patrick McCaskey on Sports and Faith, we were surprised to find that several of the original founders of the NFL were devout Catholics. They were not saints by any means, but they got down on their knees and routinely gave thanks for all they had. They did what they could for other people when the business finally got off the ground after decades of surviving one financial crisis after another.

Surprising NFL Owners

The Maras (Giants), the Rooneys (Steelers) and the Halas-McCaskeys (Bears) are still deeply involved in many good causes and you could write a daily story about how they are "giving back" to the community. There are many other owners, coaches, and players who provide superb examples for kids--but Christian educators believe that they need to do a better job of publicizing the good while understanding that sports heroes are human beings. However, often, devout people shun publicity.

Legendary coaches and renown Christians like Tom Landry, Tony Dungey and the Bears own Lovie Smith have made their mark on the game, but few kids know how huge a part faith has played in the careers of these quiet leaders.

Examples are Key

If teachers want to instruct their kids on sports and faith, a good starting point is to provide examples of those faithful sports figures who give back daily. Educators can review the examples presented in Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other books.

Personal Touch

Mr. McCaskey makes presentations at many schools and churches on the topic of sports and faith. McCaskey grew up in a great sports family and his example provides a terrific witness to faith to young people. He also connects strongly with fathers who often need more encouragement to lead their children to church and the Bible. If you'd like to invite Mr. McCaskey to your school or church, write .

Here are few Christian fundamentals that are expressed in Sports and Faith:

1. An athlete's talent comes from God.
2. Performing well gives praise to our creator.
3. Careers can end in seconds--a higher power is in control.
4. Life can be disappointing, but we need to accept what God gives us.
5. We need fellowship and church.
6. We need to read and study the Bible.
7. We need to live Christ-centered lives.
8. We need to use our gifts and hone our skills.
9. We need to require good Christian behavior from our children.
10. We need to live up to our responsibilities in passing down our faith.

Photo of Sports Illustrated cover with noted Christian athlete, Tim Tebow.

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