Christian Athletes

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So here is a question. In sports, what does it mean to be a “Christian Athlete”? At Westminster, it’s obvious that we would consider ourselves as such, but how do we define it? Why do we call ourselves it? Does it make us feel better? Do we do it to make ourselves look better than our public school opponents? Do we do it because we truly believe it?

Let’s start with a definition. The only problem to this is that the term “Christian Athlete” lacks a singular, concrete definition. Fellowship of Christian Athletes defines it as “Christian + Sport = Christian Athlete” ( This definition seems overly simplistic, but it gets the point across. Simply by the rules of association, a Christian that plays a sport is an athlete, so that person is therefore a Christian Athlete. Where the above definition falls short is that it only defines on the surface level; the outward representation of a Christian Athlete. I’m here to wrestle with and find out what it actually means to be a Christian Athlete. To do this, let’s start with the basics.

You’ve heard it said a thousand times that Christian Athletes are set apart. How are they set apart? The cliché answer is that they “don’t cuss, don’t talk back, and don’t disrespect officials”. All of these things carry some validity, but it is more than that. You have to ask yourself: why should we do these things? Start by picturing what it would look like if a team didn’t do those things. I imagine that most of us have played teams like this. They are a pain to compete against. Cheap shots, hard fouls, penalties, are all terms synonymous with a team like that. The image of a sports team like that should make it easy to figure out how we should act. In a nutshell, we should be respectful. To clarify, this doesn’t mean we should be nice. Being respectful and nice are two different things. Sports are a competition, and being nice often equals being beaten. However, respect is mandatory. (One could even argue that it is respectful to be competitive and “not nice” to an opponent, but that’s another article in itself.) Respect for opponents, officials, and teammates is of paramount importance to the Christian Athlete.

There has to be something more than respect, right? Any non-Christian athlete can show respect. Classy athletes, regardless of religious affiliation, often show respect. What else is needed? What makes Christian athletes truly set apart? It’s no accident that officials send letters to Westminster commending certain teams in certain games. Other than respect, I don’t know if I have an exact answer for this. I don’t know what makes us fully set apart. All I know is that there is something, and it’s something important. Strive for it; discover it. Challenge yourself to be set apart. Who knows? You might surprise yourself.

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