I have a laundry list of potential topics to discuss, but it’s fitting that my first post is about the intersection of two of my loves: faith and soccer. Yesterday saw the end of the US Men’s National Team’s World Cup hopes, but it was a loss with class, dignity, and grit. While we may wear white jerseys (or bomb pops), yesterday was the epitome of blue-collar, “do work” soccer, and no one on the 2014 squad embodied that ideal better than Howard and Dempsey. Howard’s incredible 16 saves against Belgium and Dempsey’s early goal and playing through a broken nose book-ended the tournament for us, setting a pace for American soccer that I hope to see idealized at every level of development. I was encouraged to also discover this week that both Dempsey and Howard’s work ethic are built on a foundation of faith. Both men’s faith are reflected on the field; Howard’s calm in the goal is sourced out of the peace that he’s come to know through Christ. Dempsey’s grit comes from personal turmoil, wrestling through difficult questions and finding confidence in the truth of God’s Word.
Cru has an article on Howard, interviewed by Athletes in Action:
Fellowship of Christian Athletes includes a devotional written by Dempsey, but the patheos provides a more thorough overview:
What it means to be a Christian athlete is often mischaracterized or misunderstood. Timid, meek, or nice are often words that come to mind; however, hard work, fair play, dedication, and leadership are much more in line with God’s expectation for any profession. The soccer community is privileged to have two men of character, integrity, passion, and work ethic as examples of Christian footballers. As a coach, Colossians 3:23 has often been a go-to reminder of how to play sports: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as for the Lord and not for men.” Hats off to the United States Men’s National Team, and especially to Howard and Dempsey for inspiring a nation and leading by example.