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What does Sports Chaplaincy look like?

This post is taken from Roger Lipe’s blog for Sports Chaplains, sports mentors and character coaches. Roger describes the work of a Sports Chaplain in vivid, sensory language, so that you can understand Sports Chaplaincy from the inside. You’ll notice straight away though that he is American, so some things are a bit different: we can’t recall that many hot Augusts in this country, but his reference to tailgate barbecues outside the stadium sounds like fun!


What does Sports Chaplaincy look like?

Sports Chaplaincy looks like sunny afternoons at football practices in the heat of August. It looks like quivering lips at the funeral visitation for a coach too soon taken from his team. Like the bright lights of a stadium on a fall evening. Like the dim lights of a locker room after a disappointing loss. In short, Sports Chaplaincy looks like opportunity. We see the hearts of men and women, boys and girls, in the glaring lights of sports arenas and also in the shadows of injury, disappointment, and grief. Each of these moments looks like an opportunity to speak life into their searching souls.


What does Sports Chaplaincy sound like?

Sports Chaplaincy sounds like loud sports arenas: their blaring music, shouting crowds, chanting fans, and bellowing announcers. It sounds like the banter between teammates in a locker room before practice. Like the hushed voices and the beeps of a heart monitor in an emergency room. Like the squeaks on a basketball floor during a scrimmage. It sounds like the crack of bats and pops of balls into gloves at batting practice. It sounds like sobs and sniffles while in the grieving line of mourners at a funeral wake. More simply said, Sports Chaplaincy sounds like peace.


What does Sports Chaplaincy taste like?

Sports Chaplaincy tastes like pregame pasta. It tastes like sweat on your upper lip while standing at a midsummer batting practice. Like a cup of coffee with the coach as you discuss the painful options for the career changes that are suddenly at hand. Like the glorious post-game pizza, chicken, or sandwiches on the long bus ride home following an important road victory. It tastes like Gatorade on the sideline as you gulp down some Ibuprofen to ease the pain in the chaplain’s aging joints. More than anything, it tastes like love. To be with the people the Sports Chaplain loves tastes like love, anywhere and anytime.


What does Sports Chaplaincy smell like?

I know what you’re thinking, but hang on. Sports Chaplaincy smells like the barbecue smoke wafting into the stadium from the tailgate area outside. It smells like menthol from ointment rubbed on sore muscles in a training room. It smells like hot dogs and popcorn at a ballpark. Yes, it smells of the pungent aroma in a sweaty men’s locker room. Mostly it smells like competition. These olfactory stimulations prompt my heart to compete, my pulse to race, and my mind to pursue victory. I love these smells! They are as sacred as incense.


What does Sports Chaplaincy feel like?

Sports Chaplaincy feels like pain in one’s joints. It feels like breathless exhilaration after a thrilling victory. Like bitter grief after a disappointing loss. Like the rush of pride when a player breaks through a performance barrier. It feels like death when a coach is exposed for cheating. Like joy when relationships are restored. Like discomfort when riding a bus through the night after a rainy road loss to a rival. It feels like life. All of life’s kaleidoscope of emotions are distilled into the sporting experience for the competitors, the coaches, the support staff, and also the Sports Chaplain. Sports Chaplaincy feels like life. Isn’t it wonderful?

Sports Chaplaincy, when experienced with an open heart, an inquisitive mind, with fully engaged emotions, and an active body is rich with sensory perception. Go ahead, jump in with both feet. Plunge into the depths of Sports Chaplaincy. See its marvels. Hear its sonic flood of music and voice. Fill your mouth with its delicious tastes. Breathe in its every aroma. Feel its joy, pain, exhilaration, and grief. It’s worth the risk and the reward will capture your soul.


Want to understand Sports Chaplaincy more?

If this appeals to you and you would like to understand Sports Chaplaincy more, then please get in touch. We will put you in touch with a local Sports Chaplain who will help you understand Sports Chaplaincy and how you can be involved.

Author Info

Roger Lipe

Roger Lipe is a Sports Chaplain at Southern Illinois University and for the Southern Illinois Miners baseball team. He is also responsible for developing Sports Chaplaincy in the Midwest of the United States for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has written 11 books for coaches and athletes. He has worked with others from around the world, including NZ, to produce the Global Sports Chaplaincy basic training course. You can read his blog at http://sportchaplainsportmentor.blogspot.co.nz/ or contact him at lipe6956@gmail.com.

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