How Can Sports Impact Your Soul

Article I wrote for Christian Life News

How can you make an impact in sports? A simple question to ask, but not so simple to answer. I would bet those of you who are reading this have played a sport or two in your time. Maybe you were the star quarterback in high school; the ace on the pitching staff in college; or maybe you played professionally. The question I want to ask is: What do you remember most about your playing experience?

For me, the answer is simple…my teammates…the guys I went to battle with day in and day out. It’s about the memories I made on bus trips, the hotel, or in the dugout. We became family, brothers, at least for the years we were together.

The relationships we make in sports are hard to duplicate. There is something about the camaraderie. We’re all striving toward the same goal. We know for a fact those 25 to 30 guys have our back. They’d go to war for us, on and off the field.

It is one such relationship that I would like to highlight today. I played baseball collegiately, both in junior college and at a university. One relationship still sticks out in my mind, even to this day. It is a relationship with a young man who personified what it meant to follow Christ.

Being a Christian is not always easy, especially in an egocentric field like athletics. But it is in that world where the most unselfish people are easily recognized. That young man carried himself with an air of confidence that did not lend itself to selfishness. It was a quiet confidence; a confidence one has when he follows Jesus Christ.

I was like most athletes—selfish, ambitious, and filled with ego. I was in the game for only one reason—to make it all the way. My friend, on the other hand, played the game with honor. He played for a higher purpose—to glorify God no matter the outcome. Win or lose, he was the same. Something about him stuck out to me. I was interested in how he was different. He didn’t get into trouble, he wasn’t a demagogue, and he kept his nose clean and did his job when he was called upon.

He constantly invited me to Bible studies in his dorm room, offered advice when he thought I needed it, and listened without judgment. He was a shining light in the midst of my darkness.

It wasn’t until after college when I found myself hopeless that I began to search for the God he tried to show me all along. In my mid-20s I was at a crossroads. Without baseball, the game I loved, I became so depressed that I searched for a reason to live.

It was in the stillness of the night where God found me. A seed that had been planted six years prior came full circle. I cried out to the Lord, begging Him to show Himself. He did. He showed Himself in the people that I had met in my life that He planted along the way. He planted my friend and teammate. He planted my wife and our church-going friends. He gave me a spotlighted runway that I was too senseless to see in the first place. And without those people, who knows if I would still be here today?

So I ask you: How can you make an impact in sports? Simple. Be the guiding light in some young man or woman’s life. Show them the power of Christ through your actions, and maybe someday someone will write about you.