The Testament of a Christian Athlete

Admittedly the one time I’m addicted to twitter is right after a big football game. Instantly I can see the debate, the glory, the defeat and the final conclusions all in one place. And even better, I know what ESPN to Brice Butler to friends I that haven’t talked to in months think of whats going on.

Now when TCU QB Andy Dalton recited a verse on humility in the most humble of ways possible I stopped for a moment. Clearly I was interested. I just finished my masters thesis that had a focus on the media portrayal of Christian football players. But apparently I wasn’t the only one who stopped, tweeted and watch everyone else do the same.

Some of the responses were what you’d expect. All the christians got really excited. Go figure. But one particular friend stated that “the real testament of Christian athletes aren’t if they praise God when they win. But if they praise God when they lose.” Alright. That’s biblical. It’s also happened before. I vividly remember an injured Colt McCoy doing just that when his team not only lost the national title game, he couldn’t even participate in it. Actually, from halfway through the first quarter on, he couldn’t even feel his throwing shoulder.

But is it true? Is the only way to test if an athlete is Christian or not is to shove a microphone in his face after a tough loss and count how many times he mentions God? As one who will day being doing the shoving with said mic, I’d have say…

No.

So thus I responded in my 140 characters.

“Both (winning and losing) are important times. Each communicates a different sentiment. Both moments need God in different ways.” Essentially, and hold on to your hats for this, athletes are people too. Some people find it easier to praise God when things are going well (i.e. they are “winning” at the game of life) because they feel blessed. Others actually find it easier to praise God when things are going less than well because it forces them to rely on God and focus what they have (lets say the opportunity to play in a bowl game) versus what they don’t (a victory in said bowl game). If an athlete praises God only when he loses, well then it shows the world the time to turn to God is only when things aren’t going well. If said athlete only praises God when he’s hoisting the trophy next to Erin Andrews then it shows he (or she) is either 1) Only “in it to win it” trying to use faith in God as a means to an end (this is what said twitter friend was afraid of) or 2) Their faith isn’t very deep.

So what then, is the “true” testament of a Christian athlete? When they praise God in the situation that is hardest for them to remember who got them there in the first place.

Sometimes its an acknowledgement that God is their rock even when they don’t understand (Colt McCoy), other times its a breathless “Praise God” in the heat of the moment (Matt Barkley) and sometimes its a full recitation of 1 Peter 5:7 (Andy Dalton). But either way, the message  is the same:

Win or lose, there is always a victory with Jesus.

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