Handling Emotions as a Christian Athlete
Although people were made in Christ’s image, it can sometimes be hard to act like it. Especially when we have troublesome emotions that can rear their ugly heads in the heat of a confrontation, celebration, or tricky circumstance. What about when you not only have to handle emotions in front of a roommate, family member, or friend, but before 200 people in a crowded gymnasium, a busy soccer field, or on a lively tennis court? Handling emotions as an athlete can be extremely difficult, but throw in the expectation to model Christ-like behavior and it becomes nearly impossible. In order to understand the topic more thoroughly, a few Highlanders were interviewed to understand how they handle their emotions as an athlete who bears Christ’s image.
A question was posed to a member of each of Cairn’s women’s and men’s sports teams. The question was posed as such:
What does it mean, as an athlete that bears Christ’s image, to manage your emotions in a godly way, both on and off the field/court/course?
Chris Uhrich, Senior, Men’s Basketball:
“As an athlete that bears Christ’s image, managing emotions in a godly way both on and off the field/court/course means acting in a way that Christ would act in any situation. For example, when things don’t go your way, whether it be a referee making a terrible call, an opposing player doing something to get under your skin, a coach not giving you playing time, etc., we should always rejoice and have a godly attitude. On the flip side, if something does go your way, such as you or your team making a great play, you should rejoice in a godly way that isn’t demeaning or belittling towards the opposing team/players.”
Amy Faust, Junior, Women’s Basketball:
“One of the things I do before every game is spend a minute or two in prayer. I use this time to ask God to help me stay focused, play hard, and glorify Him in all I say and do on the court. This is a great reminder before games that all I say and do on the court will reflect Christ to my teammates, the fans, the refs, and the other team.”
Corey Nolan, Senior, Men’s Soccer:
“As a Christian athlete, to manage my own emotions is critical not only because of who I represent (Christ), but also because of what this should mean to me and do to me. On the field, I believe that how I play is a testimony to what I believe because if what I believe influences me the way that it should, it will in turn affect my actions and be a reflection of what I believe. On numerous occasions in my Cairn career, I’ve had a number of opposing athletes come up to me and remark how they appreciated how I didn’t retaliate on a certain play, and that they realized in retrospect that their team’s reaction wasn’t the right way to play the game. These people are looking for something in us – either for good or bad reasons – as they know about what we believe and know we abide by a higher standard. So controlling our emotions is one of the most underrated, but most influential ways of having a good testimony. In regards to off the field, the same applies because people know that what I believe affects my actions, so the Corey that is off the field should align with the Corey people see on the field, and I strive to be known for that.”
Ricki White, Senior, Women’s Tennis:
“I always understood the idea of being an athlete for Christ as being His representative. Not only are we representing a Christian school but we are representing the Creator of the world who has made us and our opponents and has given us the gifts and abilities to be able to compete. In tennis we don’t have refs, so that means when you are on the court you make fair calls and maintain honesty even if you feel like your opponent is being dishonest. It also means setting the standard for honesty and good sportsmanship (so if they make bad calls, call them out respectfully). This is even more crucial when playing against non-Christian schools.
This season I learned when you’re upset, it is important to not be consumed by your emotions. It is also important that your identity is not being found in the sport because the purpose of doing the sport shifts from glorifying God to glorifying yourself.
In the end, your sport is important, but it should not be the main focus of your life. If your sport is becoming more important than your relationship with God, you need to reevaluate and make some changes.”