Faith has driven almost any subject in human history. Organisms on the hierarchy chart created by Aristotle were all second to God, education in America experienced its largest split ever because of catholicism, and the highest grossing restaurant per store in our country, Chick-fil-A, is closed on Sundays.
No matter how controversial this topic is, it has a place in our world. And no matter how big a presence that is, we must see it. Religion has become a large part of sports.
Most recently it was after the Superbowl. Headlines such as, “Eagles’ coach and players credit their faith after Super Bowl win” were scattered about and made this prestigious accomplishment something more than the better team.
All of the sudden there was another factor at play and it was not one of air pressure or stolen play cards.
It was faith.
“I can only give the praise to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for giving me this opportunity,” said coach Doug Pederson. Jesus Christ put him on the field for that win.
“It’s all about the faith, it’s all about our family, and then it’s all about the Philadelphia Eagles, and it’s in that order,” Pederson then followed with. Faith, family, then the Eagles.
Are we supposed to believe the Eagles were meant to win no matter what the circumstances?
Some invisible power was going to have them win the game through any possibility? A common denominator of this team was faith.
“All Glory to God” seemed to be the phrase of the game. It was used by Eagles Quarterback Nick Foles and leading wide receiver Zach Ertz in post-game interviews, which was then followed by backup quarterback Chase Daniel, who hosted a weekly Bible study, saying the Eagles were “by far the most spiritual team” he has played for.
Who is to say if something gave these men an advantage? But it can be said that they were all in a tightly connected mindset with one goal in mind. They did have something to raise them above; or at least they thought they did.
I would argue that simply thinking you have some edge actually provides exactly that. In Chris Paul’s (highly respected NBA player) senior year of highschool, his grandfather was murdered on the street at sixty-one years old.
Two days later Paul intentionally scored sixty-one points to honor his lost loved one. He had a few minutes to spare and could have claimed the fifty year old state record, but he did not want that. He wanted to honor his grandfather.
The average high school basketball player would be happy with twenty points. Why did this come so easy for Paul?
He was supposed to score those points. It was not just points in a basketball game. That is why he air balled the following shot and fell to the ground in tears. He had done what he was supposed to do and now the emotion had reached him.
These players felt something so much more than a game. The sport in which they were competing had so much more value than the satisfaction of a trophy or a win.
It was life or death. Jesus dying for them to be at, and then win the Super Bowl, or Paul’s grandfather’s dying age was his number to reach.
The stakes were so much greater. Not winning the greatest football opportunity in the world meant letting down their savior and not scoring sixty-one points meant letting down Paul’s grandfather, in their minds at least.
These actions are a claim to what the human mind is capable of when it sees what must be done.
Religion does that. It clears the fog of indecisiveness and creates a much more meaningful reason to do well in sports.
When that powerful mindset can be harnessed as a unifying factor of a team such as the Eagles, the possibilities seem to be limitless.
The stories of what religion has done for so many people in so many different situations is endless, but is it religion or is it what was there all along?