Through feast days and parish names, saints are honored in the Church. They are role models for all of us on our spiritual journey.
But in another way, it is encouraging to hear about Christians who stand up for what they believe in and give their own special witness of faith through their successful secular careers.
In the last year or so, this has become much more apparent. Especially in sports. NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is a key example, publicly witnessing to his Christian faith on and off the field.
Many people (myself included) had no idea who he was until the Super Bowl commercial “controversy” in 2010. Weeks before the ad’s airing, the liberal media feared it would mention that Tebow’s mother had been pressured to abort him. But the commercial didn’t use the A-word at all. It simply displayed a celebration of life through the playful affection of Tebow and his mother. Thanks to all the hype, Tim Tebow is now a household name and an icon of Christianity in the NFL.
Two even more recent examples of Christian and moral witness come from the world of hockey. Rocco Grimaldi was the Florida Panthers’ second-round NHL draft pick in 2011. Last year he made waves in the secular media because of his tweets on modesty, calling for women to cover up and guys to resist sexual temptations.
Boston Bruins’ goaltender Tim Thomas was the 2011 NHL playoff MVP. When the Stanley Cup Champions were invited to the White House, the Flint, Michigan, native was the only player to decline, stating that he disapproved of how the government is threatening freedoms of American citizens. And on his official Facebook page last month he declared that he is standing with Catholics in the fight for religious freedom.
Many Catholic athletes also witness to their beliefs through the Champions of Faith DVD series and the Catholic Athletes for Christ organization.
Athletes are typically in the news for illegal activities centering around drugs, violence, underage drinking and general recklessness. It is encouraging for young Catholic and non-Catholic Christian boys in particular to see successful athletes who love Jesus and His Church, respecting their bodies and remaining steadfast in their moral convictions.
Which sports players do you admire the most for their Christian witness?