Skip to comments.An Evangelistic Slam Dunk (The game of basketball was invented as an Evangelistic Outreach tool)
Posted on 04/11/2010 6:47:20 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
It was the basketball game for the ages. On Monday night, the Duke University Blue Devils survived a desperate, last-second shot by the underdog Butler University Bulldogs to win the NCAA mens basketball championship.
It was a great game-a classic David and Goliath matchup, given that Duke has appeared in eight championship games under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, and that Butler had never even made it to the Final Four.
You may hear folks talking about the game for some time. When you do, you can add to the conversation by revealing an interesting fact: Basketball was invented more than 100 years ago by a Christian theologian as an evangelical outreach tool.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, one of our Centurions, John Murray, recalled the story of the games founding. The inventor of basketball, James Naismith, became convinced that he stood a better chance of exemplifying the Christian life through sports rather than through preaching. So he took a job as a physical education instructor at the YMCAs International Training School for Christian Workers in Springfield, Massachusetts. Naismiths vision was to win men for the Master through the gym.
In 1891, Naismith set out to invent a new indoor game that students could play during winter. He spent weeks testing various games, including versions of soccer, football, and lacrosse, to no avail. Finally, Murray writes, Naismith decided to draw from all of these sports: with a ball that could be easily handled, play that involved running and passing with no tackling, and a goal at each end of the floor. In short, he came up with basketball.
From the beginning, Naismith and his athletic director, Luther Gulick, held the players to a high standard. As Gulick wrote in 1897, The game must be kept clean. A Christian college cannot tolerate not merely ungentlemanly treatment of guests, but slugging and that which violates the elementary principles of morals. He recommended that a coach should excuse for the rest of the year any player who is not clean in his play.
Basketball served as an important evangelical tool during the next 50 years, Murray noted. In 1941, Naismith wrote that whenever I witness games in a church league, I feel that my vision, almost half a century ago, of the time when the Christian people would recognize the true value of athletics, has become a reality.
In the last 100 years, weve seen no shortage of Christian athletes who use their skill, self-discipline, and sportsmanship as a witness to Christ-from Olympic runner Eric Liddel in the 1920s, to football player Tim Tebow in our own generation.
In fact, so many athletes give the glory to God after a game that sportswriters sometimes get irritated with them. To which I respond: Which would you prefer-players known for their faith and good sportsmanship, or players who are arrested for assault or drug use?
If you have a young basketball fan in your family, tell him or her the story of how basketball was invented. And pray for Christian players who can use the publics love of sports the way Naismith envisioned when he invented basketball-as a witnessing tool to win men for the Master through the gym.
Is this why the Jesuits love it?
Thanks for the post - had never heard this.
Well, there is the women’s side of college basketball, and my UConn women Huskies did it again and won championship number 7. :)=^..^=
Also next Sunday afternoon, the women Huskies will be honored with a parade and rally in downtown, Hartford, CT. GO UCONN WOMEN! :)=^..^=
Thanks for the post. I had used this information once when I was preaching and was amazed after the service at how many people did not know this information.
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