In 2012, there have been series of phenomenons such as “Tebowmania” or “Linsanity” involving faith and athletics. The common thread in these stories has been the athlete’s outspoken expression of their faith.
During the heart of “Linsanity” in February 2012, we witnessed an unknown point guard (only given a shot, due to other’s injury) suddenly average nearly 23 points and 9 rebounds a game. The Knicks had previously lost 11 of 13 games before Lin’s first start. Lin revived a reeling Knicks team and single handedly pulled them back into playoff contention. Jeremy Lin seemed to thrive on every criticism and obstacle that was placed in front of him all the while accrediting God for his success.
“Tebowmania,” on the other hand, was much more drawn out in which we witnessed an athlete of constant technical ridicule defy doubters by pulling out close victories. He did this while averaging a meager (36.3) QB rating in the first 3 quarters of a game compared to a league high (110.2) in the fourth. All of this seemed to crescendo into a miracle-like performance where Tebow threw for an eerie 316 yards (John 3:16) and averaged an NFL record of 31.6 yards per completion in a playoff upset over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even through college, Tebow never ceased in praising God for every opportunity he was given. He also often used post game interviews as sounding boards for his faith instead of his own play.
Aside from many Olympians in London, who professed their faith, is veteran knuckleballer, 37-year-old, R.A. Dickey. So far this season, the New York Met is 15-2 with a 2.83 ERA and has thrown four complete games. He is the first pitcher EVER to throw back to back one-hitters with 12 strikeouts or more. Also, he just tied a Mets franchise record for most 10K, 0 BB games in a season.
Dickey has also been outspoken between his style of play and faith. In a recent interview, Dickey mentioned, “An element of surrender has enabled me to get to the next place with the knuckleball. An element of surrender in my own life has helped me get to the next place in my faith and relationship to Christ.”
Regardless of your Godly beliefs, the fact remains that unwavering belief in one’s purpose or mission despite adversity, is a skill, which needs to be practiced daily.
Perhaps the perseverance and steadfast belief it takes to profess one’s faith in today’s society is the same type of perseverance and belief that is required in sports. Some people struggle with an athlete’s devotion as a testimony for their success, that God has no role in helping an athlete win. To this point, is Matt Stover, a 20-year old NFL kicker, who always pointed to the sky after his kick, make or miss.
“Believe so you can understand, do not understand so you can believe.”