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Christian Athletes Are Not Role Models
Ray Lewis

John Kruk never looked like much of an athlete. He was a first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but as a teammate put it, he looked like a guy who drove a beer truck. His many diets were never able to trim his belly—"Don't worry," he once said. "I can always put the weight back on. Quickly." Despite his poor physique and bad habits he was a consistently good hitter, and ended his career with a lifetime .300 batting average.

One time he was sitting in a restaurant, eating a big meal while downing a couple of beers and smoking a cigarette, when a woman approached his table. She recognized him but said she was shocked, because she thought that he should be in training and that a professional athlete should take better care of himself.

Kruk leaned back and said, "I ain't an athlete, lady, I'm a baseball player."

The story reminds me of another quote, this one from basketball hall of famer Charles Barkley. He was one of the most dominating power forwards of his day (1990s), who used his strength and aggressiveness to intimidate opponents. He had no patience for those who believed athletes should be role models for kids. "A million guys can dunk a basketball in jail," he once said. "Should they be role models?"

As we come to another Super Bowl, we Christians note that the leaders of each team are devout believers—Colin Kaepernick on the 49ers and Ray Lewis on the Ravens (see the related CT story). Like any group with a strong self-identity, we Christians are proud that members of our tribe are star players in this national extravaganza. Not unexpectedly, when Christians become prominent in athletics, we ...

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SoulWork
In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is Editor of Christianity Today in Carol Stream, Illinois.
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Christian Athletes Are Not Role Models
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