Religious Leaders overpower Football Fans

The Soccer World Cup is supposed to be a festival of joy where the world meets in celebration. The agreements on how the events would go down in Qatar had been years in the making. The last-minute decision to pull beer from the stadiums for everyday fans is an ugly power move by religious authorities. In their Tweet, FIFA is trying to play nice with host nation authorities, but it was clearly a unilateral decision by Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, as NBC News confirms. Religion won a pyrrhic victory here. The sports world will hopefully more considerate when picking host nations for the next major event. A good guiding question would be: Is the diversity of the entire world truly welcome here?

No more performative Christianity

PlayersPrayers started with a passion for the intersection of sports and spirituality. Over the past 18 years we have shown professional athletes praying on football fields and in boxing rings. We have talked on where spirituality supported addiction recovery in athletes. We have celebrated the unity that the Olympic Movement and the Ecumenical Movement can foster. Starting today we will no longer elevate what we consider “performative Christianity”. We reported on the dangers of faith expressions in confined spaces or with power differentials in April, when Christians were singing on planes. We admit that over the past 18 years, we have celebrated public expressions of faith without enough consideration for their second hand effects. That ends now.

PlayersPrayers joins the dissent in the Supreme Court’s Kennedy v. Bremerton School District Decision.

Official-led prayer strikes at the core of our constitutional protections for the religious liberty of students and their parents, as embodied in both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.


Henceforth, we will only report on the intersection of sports and spirituality where it respects persons of all faiths or no faith. Presentations of dominance by athletic or religious professionals will have no space here. We invite stories of vulnerability and spiritual struggle. We will share stories of transformation as long as they don’t proselytize. We continue to believe that sports and spirituality are good for the whole person. Our focus may shift, our volume of coverage may decrease but our dedication remains.

Eid Mubarak

As Muslims around the world end the Ramadan fast, the sporting world wishes blessing. Especially the UFC and Soccer are heavily involved in reaching out to their Muslim athletes and fans:

Christians singing on planes and praying on football fields

Mark Wingfield serves as executive director and publisher of Baptist News Global. In his recent op-ed he analyzes spot-on:

There’s a common thread in two seemingly unrelated cases in the news right now: The Christians singing worship songs on a commercial airline flight and the former high school football coach in Washington State who insisted on holding public prayers on the 50-yard line after games. The common thread is performative Christianity that operates out of a place of assumed privilege.

Baptist News

Of Palms and Balls

Palm Sunday is here and Christians the world over remember Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem. Among the celebrations there is humor:

The BBC is even running a piece that looks at what Palm Sunday and football have in common:

Some soccer clubs just join the leisurely atmosphere of the crowds shouting their Hosannas:

What you need to know about MLB Opening Day

President William Howard Taft threw out the first ever ceremonial first pitch on baseball’s Opening Day, April 14, 1910. On the spiritual side of the house, the 27th President identified as Unitarian:

“I am a Unitarian. I believe in God. I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe. I am not, however, a scoffer at religion but on the contrary recognize, in the fullest manner, the elevating influence that it has had and always will have in the history of mankind.”

God in the White House, PBS

Football accommodations for Ramadan

EA Sports came out with a special Ramadan kit and midnight league to accommodate everyone who observes the fast.

In real life, the Premier League will allow fasting players to come to the side of the pitch and quickly take on liquids or any energy supplements before resuming one of the nine evening matches during this holy month.

Easter changes everything for MMA

In the Christian faith, the resurrection of Jesus takes the sting out of death. The beginning of the Easter season reminds us of Paul’s call :

“Where, O death, is your sting?”

1. Corinthians 15:55

Only three days into season year’s Eastertide, the Professional Fighter’s League (PFL) will experience its own resurrection of sorts- they’ll be back on ESPN:

Kayla Harrison’s Blessing

PFL millionaire, two time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison came on the Throwing Down Podcast. She clearly defines “blessing” as only a martial artist can:

Every time we get to step on the mat is a blessing

Kayla Harrison

Takeaway lessons:

  • Blessing in an action, not a state
  • Blessing has a time and place
  • Blessing requires training and repetition

Who is the first person you see in the Rocky movies?

The year is 1976. The iconic Sylvester Stallone franchise of boxing movies kicks off with a bang. The first movie didn’t have a number since nobody could have anticipated the success that lead to 8 total sequels. Do you remember the first face you see in all those movies?

The first fight shown in the first Rocky movie is set in a repurposed church building where the face of Jesus opens the scene from a stain glass window.