By Jeremy Fitch
Faith and sports seem to make an appearance each week in the sports realm. It could be a baseball player hitting a home run and pointing to the sky, or a basketball player wins a big game and one of the first things he or she says is, “I would just like to thank God.”
Whether it is a fan favorite or not it is seen on the collegiate level and professional level due to athletes like Stephen Curry, but also coaches around the nation. We see this first hand at Liberty University with being very public with their faith whether the bright lights are it is behind the scenes.
As a past collegiate athlete and now a football coach here at Liberty, Joe Dailey detailed how during his playing days he was young in his faith. His coach and father were important mentors for the way his faith and football would end up meshing throughout the 90s and still play a role in who he is today.
“The game of life and the game of football are two totally different things. Maintaining your faith and knowing that Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior has sacrificed himself for me to be where I am today allows me to go through my daily routine as a father, husband, coach and mentor knowing that there is a higher calling than just football,” said Dailey.
Just as Dailey had mentors from a young age to help guide the path of his faith in football, so too did Stephen Curry according to BillyGraham.org. Curry’s Christian parents had the kids begin each morning with a scheduled family devotional time.
The movement of athletes around the nation willing to talk about their faith is something teammates recognize and admire. Former teammate, Harrison Barnes had nothing but praise of Curry when asked about it for BillyGraham.org.
“He’s probably one of the most humble superstars I’ve ever met… A lot of that is based on his faith. He’s a guy who not only talks it; he lives it. I think he garners a lot of respect in this locker room because of that,” said the site.
From college to professional, it is clear that faith may truly have a place at all levels of the sports world. Elonnewsnetwork.com reported that the NCAA did a study in 2011 on the role faith could be playing in these athletes lives.
“NCAA report conducted in 2011 found that 75 percent of student-athletes identified with a Christian religion. Just 13 percent of respondents said they weren’t religious,” said the report.
Many question when faith is brought up in a press conference or a post-game interview, if these athletes are just saying it to say it or if it is genuine.
“Any attention that will bring about the Word of Jesus Christ is good attention,” said Dailey.
The world of sports and faith is seen so publically of athletes and coaches, but what can go unnoticed is the athletic directors and many behind the scenes. Many schools, including Liberty University, are looking to move to a bigger conference, but could that too be affected by faith?
In a world where faith is not the centerpiece of everyone’s life, on a college level it is easy to question whether faith is a positive or negative in athletics when it comes to recruiting the top athletes to their school. Liberty Athletic Director Jeff Barber, gave an insider’s perspective on the situation.
“Tim Tebow, Christian Ponder, two professional athletes that have both told me that if Liberty had been in the SEC or ACC that they would have considered coming to Liberty,” Barber said.
For the audio story of these interviews, click here