Mind Over Sports

Going Long for Jesus

Posted on: September 15, 2006

I recently came across an article on the Internet called “Going Long For Jesus” that was written by Tom Krattenmaker. It is essentially about how pro football and basketball teams are hiring “Team Chaplains” who are Evangelicals and who are bringing to the locker rooms a potentially divisive brand of conservative Christianity, and how these Evangelicals often drive a wedge between players of a team…those who embrace the Christian right and those who are more moderate in their beliefs. In the forefront of this movement, of course, is the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) with headquarters in the Kansas City area.

The article really made me aware of how much the introduction of religion has permeated professional sports (especially right wing evangelical) and how it could also be a divisive influence on a team and can actually create new problems that could (and probably do) affect team chemistry and team bonding. I’m sure it’s helpful for those players who have strong Christian beliefs, but that extreme behavior can also turn off other players who have a more moderate approach to religion. Seems to me the answer is for team owners and coaches to whole heartedly endorse religious practices, but only outside the stadium…I would think that the owners and coaches would want a separation of “church and sport” and not allow any religious practices of any kind within the premises of a stadium where the team is housed, especially since that stadium (not only in pro sports but college as well) is generally financed by public money…this, to me, is very similar to the issue of keeping religion out of our schools…Even a religious coach, if he’s worth his salt, would realize the potential disruptive influence extreme religious behavior (in the locker room, for example) can have on team chemistry.


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