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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The Annual USC Football Poem

This started as a tradition between me and my father. One year I wrote a poem about the USC football team for his birthday. Since 2003, I haven’t missed a year. Here is this season’s edition:

 The 2009 season has just begun to fade

When USC received more news than they had in decade.

From Tennessee, arrived Kiffin and Co.

Including the one and only “Coach O.”

They came and assembled a star studded crew

Helton, Craig, Barry

And Kennedy Pola too!

There wasn’t much time before the recruiting deadline

Yet the signed future stars they knew would shine

With spring ball came the message that things were not the same

“Toughness and Discipline” were enforced with “laps of shame”

But it was Coach Baxter that taught us to be the hammer, not the nail

And if Trojans played like sharks

They surely would prevail.

Then came that fateful day that echoed through Heritage Hall

When the NCAA made their final call

The media surrounded the new coach and QB

“We’re gonna try to win all 13 games”

Proclaimed the now veteran Barkley.

It was the longest off season in USC history

With appeals and departures

And more than a handful of injuries.

When finally September arrived

The Trojans planned to do more than just survive

And thus they began with a very predictable 4-0 start

But with the rest of the season, came the tough part.

More than one game had us on the edge of our seat

Win or lose, the Trojans vowed to compete.

Some games were lost by a field goal or won by a touchdown

But by the end of the season

Los Angeles was still our town.

Woody and RoJo anchored the aerial attack

While Baxter and Tyler ran the “wildcat.”

Mustain had his moment in the sun- I mean rain

And against UCLA, Bradford brought the pain.

One thing was certain,

No matter what went wrong

The Trojans lived by two words this season

Fight On!

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Thanking Bill Simmons

I rarely ever do this, but I had to respond to Bill Simmons after his column describing how much he dislikes his daughter liking purple. It actually captured something very special to me and I had to share that with him. Now I share that all with you:

Admittedly I’m a Laker fan. But I’m not hear to berate you for insulting and slandering my favorite NBA team. On the contrary, I’m offering the proverbial olive branch to say “thank you.”

 You see, I just finished my masters degree at USC and am entering the world of media. Sports Media. I can’t stand the serious stuff. All they cover is the dying and the dead. I want to talk about life and, as your column so perfectly demonstrated, sports is the stuff of life.

Oh sure, you had to slip in your planned demise for the Lakers, but it wasn’t about that. It was merely a tool to brilliantly demonstrate the wonder and mystery of the father-daughter relationship. I’m an only child and becaues of it I have a very special relationship with both my parents. I may have long talks with my mother, but I’m still Daddy’s Girl. And part of that is enjoying the same sports teams.

This next part I must tell you so you know that there is hope just in case your daughter ends up liking the Lakers. People can change past the age of 5. I did. At 5, if you turned on any sporing event, but especially a USC football game, I complained. Loudly and obviously. I was told to either learn to tolerate it or leave the room because one day I would have a boyfriend (and then a husband) and he would probably like sports.

So I left the room.

 Now flashfoward to today. I’m 22 and am itching to one day work for ESPN or Fox as a sportscaster while having my own column. I just finished  my 5th football season with the Trojan Marching Band, my 4th with the USC Sports Info Dept and my first as a blog contributor for USCTrojans.com. Translation? I can’t get enough of it. All of it. But especially Trojan Football. And I’m pretty sure I knew more about football than my ex-boyfriend.

So you see, there is hope past the age of 5.It’s a little harder, but fully possible. But Dad, you’re right. It’s up to you. And she’ll thank you for it too one day.

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Handing Off…

Be prepared. This is mostly a sports blog. Mostly.

After years of saying, “I can’t wait to have my own column one day” I finally realized the beauty of the 21st century — I don’t have to wait for my own column to have my writing read by the public. That is, if the public finds what I have to say at least mildy intersting. I’ll aim for slightly more intriguing than grass growing for now. Then by next week I move up to paint drying. Baby steps.

So here it is. My first step to being “The Sports Girl,” the female version Bill Plaschke, the next Erin Andrews. Sratch that. Its my first step to showing the world of gridiron groupies and football fanatics a new brand of journalsim. My brand. Honest. Eclectic. Real…

Admittedly, I might decide to audible and change the subject a few times. Sports is life and life is sports, but there is more to life than just sports. So if you get the occasional post of my views of faith or the joys of people watching at a salsa club just go with it. We’re all friends here.

And hey, if you like what you see keep reading. And if you’re an employer, let’s talk.

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