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Christianity plays a very important role in society today. Seeing all the different ways that Christianity affects the way we live our lives, I noticed that professional sports is greatly influenced by Christianity. There always tens to be some controversy over Christianity in professional sports. Weather in football, boxing, basketball, or baseball, there is controversy. But this controversy is not necessarily a bad thing. The reason that there is controversy is because more and more professional athletes are either professing that they are Christians, or there are athletes accepting the Christian beliefs from the witnessing of other athletes. This growth does not stop here. As the number of Christian professional athletes is on a rise, the public notices. The public is greatly influenced by super-stars. When one of those super-stars becomes Christian, many fans of that athlete will notice and see the difference in him/her. The fans will act how the athlete will act. If they see Michael Jordan doing something, they "wanna be like Mike". So, it is easy to see how Christian athletes have an affect on other athletes, and how all the athletes have an affect on society. Subsequently, by having this affect on society it is healthy to set a Christian example rather then that of the world. We need someone who is willing to put him/herself out there and proclaim the word of god through his or her own lives.
Today there are a few great professional athletes that are not afraid to profess that they are born again Christians. Evander Holyfield is one of those athletes. Before the big fight with Mike Tyson, Holyfield assured reporters that he would win, that God would give him the victory as a way to convert unbelievers. On his trunks and the collar of his robe was stitched "Phil. 4:13," which reads: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." We now know that Evander Holyfield overcame 25-1 odds to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. I'm sure that God could have worked in this situation even if he didn't win, but he did and God received all the glory from the situation (Beard).
On top of the Christian athlete list would doubtlessly be Reggie White. He has taken his role as a super-star in the National Football League and used it for the glory of God.
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Deion Sanders, of the Dallas Cowboys, is one of those new Christians. In the past Deion has been know as an arrogant player who plays for money and fame. He goes by the nickname "Prime Time". With a name like that, people are going to watch and expect a lot from that person. Now that he has professed that he is a born again Christian, people seem to expect even more from him. "Dallas Cowboys superstar Deion Sanders isn't joking about his newly found Christian faith," says Bishop T.D. Jakes, a nationally televised evangelist, "But don't expect him to be perfect" (Jones). There are many that have expressed skepticism about Sanders professing his faith. This is normal, but Jakes said many Christian athletes have been effective in reaching young people and others with the Christian message (Jones).
Every professional athlete should consider himself or herself a role model. All around the world there are kids that grow up watching these athletes. They get caught up in the talent and image of that person; so much that it influences decisions they make in life. Today society is so built up on image and money that we tend to forget about the example that we are setting. Kids are growing up thinking that they can do whatever they want and then one day accept Jesus. Phil Jackson, former Bulls head coach says, "I was missing spiritual direction. The unfulfilled legacy of my devout childhood had left an emptiness, a yearning to reconnect with the deeper mysteries of life" (Jackson 32). He grew up in a Christian home, but still lacked a positive role model outside of the home (Jackson).
Luckily, there are organizations like FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) that present young kids with professional athletes that are Christians. At FCA conventions a particular athlete will come up and share his/her testimony and show how God used them in their field. FCA provides students with information to start ministry groups for athletes at their schools called "Huddles". There are more than 7,400 "Huddles" with an estimated 500,000 students involved worldwide. This is a great start, but so much more can still be done.
Just think of all the times that we see professional athletes on our evening news getting arrested for drug use, thrown in jail for violating probation, abusing their wife, or driving while under the influence of alcohol. The list goes on and on. Think of how much the youth of today watches television and I think you will see one reason why this world is messed up. There are not enough positive role models out there. If every professional athlete would take his/her position seriously and give their careers to God, He could use them in such a way that the whole world would be impacted. You see how Reggie White, Evander Holyfield, and Deion Sanders are leading the way. Just by them taking steps of faith and professing that God is Lord of all, and he is the reason of their success, there has been a change in the way we look at today's athletes. Sure we expect more from them if they proclaim to be Christians, but I'm sure that the Lord will give them the extra strength they need to give more.
Beard, Steve. Evander Holyfield and Power Evangelism. 6 Nov. 1999