Posted by: Virginia Catholic Conference | 09/18/2013

Evangelizing through sports


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Have you noticed the homilies are getting shorter at Sunday Mass lately so Father and parishioners can get home in time for the big game?  Along with shorter homilies and football, the pumpkin spice lattes, and, of course, season premieres of our favorite television shows are clear signs that fall has arrived!

It’s pretty safe to say that the sports and entertainment worlds feed into and encourage what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI termed “the dictatorship of relativism,” and by extension, the culture of death.   But there are numerous sports stars that live their faith day in and day out, using their celebrity status to evangelize by example.

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who had a record-breaking college career at NC State, makes his Catholic faith a part of his life, both on and off the gridiron.  “Once I’ve received the Eucharist, then I’m prepared to go out and play….Faith comes first, then family, then football,” Rivers told the National Catholic Register.  A father of six, Rivers and his wife, Tiffany, are active in the pro-life movement.  They established an adoption foundation, Rivers of Hope that seeks to place foster children in permanent families. “Protecting the most vulnerable is essential to being pro-life,” Rivers says.  Philip Rivers also promotes the gift of chastity and virginity to young people.

Among the defending Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens, many share a common Catholic faith, and Mass is celebrated weekly for the team.  Coach John Harbaugh and kicker Justin Tucker draw heavily on their Catholic faith.  Tucker, who makes the sign of the cross before each kick, says of the team’s spirituality, “in the locker room, just before the game, we grab hands as an entire team, and someone always offers a prayer that we play to glorify God and to thank him for the opportunities with which we have been blessed.  Just like a family that prays together stays together, our team prays together.”

Olympic skier Rebecca Dussault, an eight-time National Champion, makes her Catholic faith a part of her life as an athlete, wife, and mother to four children.  Rebecca competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy and has a devotion to Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, an avid sportsman from Turin who died at age 24 of polio, which he contracted while serving the poor.  Rebecca learned early how to share her faith. “When I was young and went on my first trip I was hesitant to speak up and say that I wanted to go to Mass. When I stuck to it and showed that I lived my faith I got respect from my teammates.”  Hoping to compete in the 2014 Olympics in Russia, Rebecca’s other goals include “living heroic virtue and becoming a saint, having several more children and becoming a midwife.”  She and her husband are advocates of Natural Family Planning and homeschooling.

Despite a growing cultural bias against the faith, some stars use their fame to advance solid morals and values in a culture that desperately needs witnesses to Truth.  This fall, as we cheer on our favorite teams, let’s follow the stars and evangelize through faith and action!

P.S. Know of other examples of sports figures or entertainment stars sharing their faith? Tell us about it on Facebook!

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