It has always been a question whether or not Christians should play sports. We see on television and through social media how many famous professional Christian athletes get ridiculed for their beliefs while showing their competitive nature against opponents.
The same question has come up for Pioneer athletics, asking whether or not Christians could actually compete in sports while displaying Malone’s motto “Christ’s kingdom first.”
Pioneer athletics are often overlooked and underrated compared to the other universities in the GLIAC conference.
This comparison could be from many reasons, but the main reason Pioneer athletics is overshadowed is by the recent join of the GLIAC conference.
Many other universities view Pioneer athletics as a small Christian college with less experience in the big pond and less aggression to be competitive.
“We are overlooked sometimes,” athletic director Charlie Grimes said. “But at the end of every event, we gain a ton of respect based off of how we play the game and how hard we compete.”
Grimes said that many of the sports teams are showing the league that they are more than capable of competing with the best.
“We face many challenges in competition,” Grimes said. “Bigger schools with larger enrollments have more resources. They can have bigger staffs, budgets, facilities that are better than ours.”
Grimes also said Pioneer teams sometimes play the game better because of the mentality they have entering competition.
“We want to honor our opponents by playing hard and by glorifying God,” Grimes said. “It’s easy to do stuff the regular way in sports; we try to do a more Christian and godly way. We do not want the same reputation of other schools.”
Standing out from the others
Malone is one of the few Christian schools in the GLIAC conference. Being from a small Christian institution, the Pioneers view the challenge as a good way to test their faith and determination.
The athletic department provides athletes who want to display good Christian faith in their sports with a positive environment and better person-to-person relationships.
“We care about our athletes here,” Grimes said.
Athletes agree that Pioneer athletics does a great job providing great coaches that not only care about the sport, but care about each athlete’s mentality and walk with God.
“I play the game not only because I love the sport (football), but to also honor the Lord,” junior offensive lineman Sione Veikoso said. “Our faith is a huge plus for us here at Malone. When I think about [actual pioneers], I think about Christians. They blazed the trail and led the way to where they needed to go.”
Athletes also discussed how they strive to walk further in their journey as athletes, as Christians should also do.
“When you’re a Christian and have the opportunity to play sports, it gives you another way to glorify God,” junior basketball player Sarah Bardall said. “From the outside, I am sure people look at us [as] weird or weak, and they won’t compete with the best at all.”
Bardall also discussed her views on Christians in sports and how athletes attending a Christian institution should strive to be competitive.[pullquote]Athletes want to show their strength through the Lord, while maintaining integrity and Christian values in competition.[/pullquote]
“I don’t think as Christians we should stop caring about wins and losses, but we should have a different approach.” Bardall said. “Our motivation isn’t the same as a non-Christian team.”
“God doesn’t call us to be wimpy,” Bardall said. “We are required to push teammates, along with the other team, to perform their best and glorify God in the process.”
Check out sports editor Tina Oprean’s blog on faith as an athlete here.