Athletes in Action, a sports ministry of Cru, is working this football season with a number of NFL teams to offer religious support to athletes.
This season, AIA is working with the Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Many NFL teams also have their own chaplains on staff.
“At some level, teams see chaplains as a support to the teams’ goals and needs, but they vary how much access they give chaplains into the life and world of the teams,” said George McGovern, the New York-based director of AIA’s NFL Pro Staff Division.
McGovern was the chaplain for teams such as the NFL’s Jets, the NBA Nets, and the MLB’s Mets.
AIA launched in 1996 when Cru staff member Dave Hannah started a basketball team of former NCAA Division I players.
Today, AIA has more revenue than Fellowship of Christian Athletes and maintains an active presence in the NFL. The group is also involved across college campuses.
“Professional sports is a high visibility industry,” said McGovern. These guys are looked up to. Some are worshipped by fans who honor the football rituals. There’s an influence and impact that professional sports has on our culture.
“If organizations like AIA and Fellowship of Christian Athletes can help some of these players and coaches grow, live lives that reflect a very high moral standard, and are even willing to verbalize how they credit their relationship with God, they will be heard by millions of people in the country and heard by tens of thousands of people in their cities.”
Of his experience working as a chaplain, McGovern said his relationship with the teams was rooted in trust.
“You have to understand their world,” McGovern says. “Everyone outside that locker room or practice facility wants something from them. They may not verbalize it this way, but the first question they have for a chaplain is, ‘Is he in this for what he can get out of it? Or is he doing this for what he can give?
“If you don’t love it, or you’re not it for what you can give to the team, you will remain an outsider.”
Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Rob Carr / Staff
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2src14. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.
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