Sport Ministry

Did you know that sport ministry is actually a fairly new field in the world of sport? Yes, true story! Even though I am almost certain you have heard of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) or AIA (Athletes in Action) you might be intrigued to know that there is no single organization that oversees team chaplains in intercollegiate sports. You heard me right. There is no “NCAA” for team chaplains. There does not exist an organization that draws up qualifications or competencies, lists required certifications or licenses, or publishes professional literature for team chaplains. Due to the vagueness of the position, a team chaplain is almost like a snowflake: there are no two alike, which is not necessarily a good thing in this case. Some chaplains simply are not qualified to deal with an athlete’s major signs of depression or substance abuse, for example. In addition, a team chaplain can bring about debate and discourse in regards to the separation of church and state. (Probably the most well-known and recent case involves Iowa State and their former football coach, Gene Chizik. Click here for a quick briefing.)

So why am I telling you about all of this? Well, I have had a recent vision, maybe even a calling, to at the very least research more heavily the field of sport ministry, particularly team chaplaincy. I am curious to know the backgrounds and journeys of current chaplains. I am curious to know if there is a common denomination that links sports chaplains. I am curious to know why there aren’t many women team chaplains. Most of all, I want to answer these questions and the others that are bound to come up to give me more proof that this is the field in which I belong. I understand the newness of sport chaplaincy and the legal, social, and ethical issues that coincide with it. I also understand the lack of accreditation the job receives at the moment. But aren’t we all challenged in one or more of those forms with our jobs, with our lives?

Over the last year and a half, I have been pursuing a degree that I cannot even explain and/or tell others what I want to do with when I am finished. Shouldn’t that be a sign? Let’s be real. Shouldn’t I be able to at least give a general idea of what I want to do after graduate school?? I can, but I say about four different things. So really, I can’t. But for once, this AHA moment I am currently having is one that fills my heart and mind more fully from day to day. The voice inside my head is like the voice inside Kevin Costner’s head in Field of Dreams. So, I am going to build it and have hope it will come.

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