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Author Topic: Faith in the game.
Darth_Mauve
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Last week I was at a Character Education conference. One of the main speakers was a member of the St. Louis Rams football team. (I didn't get his name.) He mentioned that the head coach only chooses players that meet his four pillars. First is Faith, second is Character, third and fourth were similar terms.

It was the Faith one that got to me. Did the head of an NFL team only choose players who went to church?

Sure, there are many great players who always make a point to "Thank God" for their success, so why not choose players of faith?

Then it struck me that besides Notre Dame, I couldn't think of one professional or college team in the country, in any sport, that was based on a specific religion.

Sure there are the Cardinal and the Angels and even some devils here and there, but nothing Catholic or Lutheran. While we as a nation expect our sports heroes to thank God, we don't decide our religion on who wins the Super Bowl.

Why not?

Lets pit your God against mine.

How? We can't recruit a Catholic baseball team and a Jewish one and a Methodist one and play the World Series.

Not a real team...but there are virtual teams.

I am not into these fantasy leagues but I bet there is a way to create a couple of teams based on the faith of the players. Pick the best athlete of each faith for each position and run the league as best you can. Then at the end of the season publish your results.

You can have the Catholic Cardinals, the Baptist Angels, the Jewish Tribes, the LDS Prophets and others. For honesty's sake have the Hedonists Hangovers. Such a league would not allow trades, just conversions.

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MightyCow
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Why make it about sports? Let's have faith healers of each church set up clinics and one clinic of atheist doctors and people can choose which one to visit when they get sick [Wink]
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So it was definitely faith, as in belief in God? Not just faith that you can succeed, or faith in your teammates?
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Kwea
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I bet it wasn't about religion, but in faith in oneself.
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Darth_Mauve
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No, it was religious faith, though not any particular church. At least that is what this football player described, and he was one of those "God let me win the game" players.

Of course, how much faith can you have when your biggest work day is the day you believe God told you not to work..?

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Of course, how much faith can you have when your biggest work day is the day you believe God told you not to work..?
How do you know that they believe that?
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If it really is about religious faith, I would think the team is pretty confident most of the players have religious beliefs and will be energized rather than demotivated by having that be one of the requirements. In other words, the team is using what is already there to motivate and unify. They aren't making faith a bar to cross--that's not necessary. And they're making it non-demoninational and I'm assuming not pushing a particular level of devoutness.

IMO, the team is using faith to mean whatever each player interprets it to mean.

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MightyCow
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I'm not sure why they bother practicing. If God wants them to win, he'll arrange it so they win, practice or not. As if God's will could be stopped by lack of talent or hard work.

Seems like they don't actually trust in God if they keep planning and practicing and doing drills. That's relying on their own limited, fallible, human skills, instead of trusting in God's will being done as He intends.

Edit: That brings to mind a better means of picking teams. One team should be composed of the most faithful, devout followers, regardless of age, fitness, skill or experience. That team should not practice or train, but pray that God will let them win.

The other team can be non-religious players picked for purely rational, scientific reasons, and they should train as bard as possible, with no religious activity allowed.

If God wants the faithful grandmothers to win, no team of pro atheletes could stop them.

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Speed
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quote:
Originally posted by Darth_Mauve:
Then it struck me that besides Notre Dame, I couldn't think of one professional or college team in the country, in any sport, that was based on a specific religion.

I don't know much about sports, but... BYU?
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BlackBlade
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quote:
I'm not sure why they bother practicing. If God wants them to win, he'll arrange it so they win, practice or not. As if God's will could be stopped by lack of talent or hard work.

This demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of God's relationship with man.

But I don't think you were being serious. I'm certain that it's quite obvious why God would want us to become his tools, and yet not want us to turn off our own efforts and wait for him posses our bodies.

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jebus202
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God helps those who help themselves.

Or put another way; God claims the credit when you put in the hard work.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by jebus202:
God helps those who help themselves.

Or put another way; God claims the credit when you put in the hard work.

I've always been partial to, "Pray like it all depends on God, work like it all depends on you."
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Tresopax
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quote:
This demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of God's relationship with man.
It also demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of sports. What would be the point of winning if it didn't take any practicing or training?

...

I don't think the goal behind this coach's first "Pillar" is to win God's favor by picking players of a certain faith. I suspect the thinking is more along the lines of the notion that having faith in a higher being is fundamentally important to having the sort of attitude that this coach believes will lead to becoming a successful player and a helpful teammate.

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Black Fox
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Have you thought that perhaps what is really going on is that the ability to have faith in one thing at the very least shows an ability to have faith in the first place. When you're getting crushed by the other team or they are simply the larger, stronger, faster side then rational thought is not always what you want. What you want is faith in the improbable that you will carry the day and win the game. That even if your body is not as strong you can win. Trying to figure out the probability that you will score a touchdown with 12 seconds left in the game while you are on the line of scrimmage is most likely not all that helpful.
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There's a reason that final, desperate play at the end of a game is called a Hail Mary.
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MightyCow
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I'm simply pointing out the lie inherent in the claim that one team won with God's help. The team that won was stronger, faster, smarter, more practiced, etc. Faith in God is completely irrelevant, and the athletes actions show that they know that, regardless of what they say.

In fact, all but the most crazily religious people ultimately behave as though God does nothing, even if they claim otherwise.

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Tresopax
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It's entirely possible that the team became stronger, faster, smarter, more practiced, etc. through God's help - or that having faith in God helped them become stronger, faster, smarter, etc.

What you have shown is that if you don't practice or train at all in a sport, you can't just expect God to simply make you win because you have the right faith. And I don't think most athletes would want it to be that way. Competitors want their hard work to mean something; they don't want God to just step in and pick a winner regardless of who has trained better or who deserves it more.

The other "pillars" mentioned by this coach are probably similar. Simply having character by itself won't make you win all the time - you have to have talent, skill, and practice too. You can't just sit there and not practice and expect to win just because you possess character. But that doesn't mean character is completely irrelevant.

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Hereís my take on it: If some kidís parents made their kid help out around the house and expected him to work hard in school and put in lots of effort to learn and prepare himself for life, would you say that those parents had done nothing for their kid once he ultimately succeeded? He did all the work himself, after all. What exactly did they do?

I also think itís cheesy when a football player reaches the end zone and kneels and points his finger up at God. But really, what is he acknowledging? That God gave him that touchdown? Possibly. People attribute windfalls and winning lottery tickets to God all the timeóstuff they didnít have to lift a finger for. Or he might be acknowledging that God gave him the opportunity to play and was a constant, encouraging presence as he worked hard to develop the skills he needed to score that touchdown. I think thatís a possibility as well. Working hard for your own success doesnít necessarily take God out of the picture. I personally believe that God does expect me to work hard and improve myself my entire life. I donít think heís as concerned about how much money I make, or how great my stat sheet is. He is very concerned about how I conduct myself, whatever situation Iím in.

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Black Fox
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
I'm simply pointing out the lie inherent in the claim that one team won with God's help. The team that won was stronger, faster, smarter, more practiced, etc. Faith in God is completely irrelevant, and the athletes actions show that they know that, regardless of what they say.


Well for one, the team that is stronger, faster, smarter, and more practiced does not always win. That is why we have things called upsets, sometimes things just happen. You have faith in victory, you continue driving on despite of the odds. Thats why people say things like, " It isn't about the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog that matters." That is a kind of "faith."

That and the type of "faith in God" that you describe is really very off base on what many religious groups see as faith in God. God may not have "granted victory" due to your prayers, but a religion such as Islam ( and really the theology for most of the religions in the Judaic/Christian/Islam tree) would say that God certainly granted all the conditions for victory to be had. How can you win the game if you were never created? I think you get where I am going with that, but I'm fairly certain the causal links are rather apparent.

Now, many would label me a closet atheist. My idea of God, spirituality, faith, etc. are a little more rational and thought out than most people who are religious. However, I cannot find it in myself to demonize every person who has a different set of truths than I do. Nor does it force me to ignore the fact that if they believe it is truth then it is something of importance. Not to mention if you allow yourself a short creative moment and imagine a worldview where those people's beliefs/truths are your own then you can come to extrapolate their positions on certain things, such as faith in atheletics, without simply raising the BS flag.

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Geraine
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The opinion that God will provide everything and give you whatever you want as long as you have faith is wrong.

I'm with BB on this one though. After you have done everything you can in order to prepare for what you need to do, God will pick up the slack if it truly is essential to your well being. A football game? Probably not that essential.

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MightyCow
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So God doesn't actually make teams win. Faith is irrelevant, because less faithful teams who are better always beat more faithful teams.

The church grandmas will never beat the Red Socks or the Raiders or the Lakers or England's World Cup team, which they should be able to do if faith actually mattered. Faith of a mustard seed can move mountains, right?

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Ecthalion
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
I'm simply pointing out the lie inherent in the claim that one team won with God's help. The team that won was stronger, faster, smarter, more practiced, etc. Faith in God is completely irrelevant, and the athletes actions show that they know that, regardless of what they say.

Where as i agree that a person's faith has nothing to do with the outcome of a game (lets face it if god was a sports fan Tim tebow would have won 15 National titles even in sports he didn't play) there are plenty of examples where the bigger, faster, stronger, more practiced, better financed team doesn't win. Boise St. over Ok, UNC over Miami, Utah over Bama.
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Ecthalion
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
So God doesn't actually make teams win. Faith is irrelevant, because less faithful teams who are better always beat more faithful teams.

The church grandmas will never beat the Red Socks or the Raiders or the Lakers or England's World Cup team, which they should be able to do if faith actually mattered. Faith of a mustard seed can move mountains, right?

Faith might be irrelevant as far as who wins the game. But coaches could certainly see the advantage of a person who has strong faith in that having faith in god can translate into having faith in your team, your coach, and even the plays called. There is the similarity of having "a man up stairs" who can view the entire situation and give guidance and suggestions. Faith can also lead you to reach deep within yourself and pull out that extra energy and desire that can allow a person to make a game winning play, to put more plainly a person with faith may not give up when the outcome seems final.

Of course before someone rails on me that an athlete does not have to have faith to have these characteristics, i do know this. Other than the obvious sarcastic remarks about having the different religions play sports against each other it seemed like the OP was asking whether or not there is a real advantage for looking for a player who has religious faith. I was attempting to provide a reasonable and short response to that.

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Rakeesh
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quote:

The church grandmas will never beat the Red Socks or the Raiders or the Lakers or England's World Cup team, which they should be able to do if faith actually mattered. Faith of a mustard seed can move mountains, right?

MightyCow, are you capable of making an honest argument about and against religion? I ask because while there are a ton of them out there, well, you very rarely make them, instead relying on stuff like this.

The passage you're referring to does not say 'people with faith will overcome any and all obstacles regardless of circumstances, period, so long as they have a tiny iota more faith than their opposition'. It just doesn't say that, MightyCow. For someone who has objected to the Bible as a source because people edit it all the time, well, you sure make free use of it for your own purposes as well.

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Black Fox
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Argument by false analogy again Mighty Cow. For one faith was just one of the "pillars" of a good athlete in a team sport. To use a fitting analogy, you can't just be fast and be a good football player, you need to be strong as well. Not to mention you also need to have amazing hand eye coordination, and the list goes on and on.

A coach at that level of NFL play is not so worried about speed, strength, size and the like as most of the players they deal with have those in spades. What they might not have is a certain level of mental fitness as they may never have been on a losing team, or dealt with that level of competition. Overcoming a horrible injury, fourth quarter deficit, or simply avoiding a bad life style choice can require a great deal of faith. Even if that faith may not necessarily come in the form religion.

To break it down for you: If religious then faithful or if not faithful then not religious. From that making the statement if faithful then religious would be a fallacious argument.

If you keep this up Mighty Cow you might come up in my advanced logic seminar's chat before class begins. I have nothing against you stating that God wielding an active force does not make the players win the game, but their faith in God can help, even if that God does not exist.

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MightyCow
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Rakeesh: See, the reason I don't bother to respond to you is that you never actually make an argument of substance, you just make snide comments and attack the argument while ignoring the point.
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rivka
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O_O

The irony. It burns, it burns!

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Rakeesh: See, the reason I don't bother to respond to you is that you never actually make an argument of substance, you just make snide comments and attack the argument while ignoring the point.
You've got a bit of a point when I said 'you very rarely make them' and questioned your capability to make an honest argument about and against religion. Those were pretty snide.

As for not making an argument of substance...your argument was based on a gross, some would say willfully inaccurate, reading of the particular passage in question. I highlighted that. So in what way did I ignore the point? What was the point? That grandmas won't beat the Yankees? Who made that argument to begin with? Did Scarecrow R. Strawman sign up on Hatrack when I wasn't looking?

ETA: Y'know, it just occurred to me...attacking the argument is now objectionable?

[ June 30, 2010, 01:43 AM: Message edited by: Rakeesh ]

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El JT de Spang
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Reminds me of a sketch I wrote last year about an athlete blaming god for a loss.
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BlackBlade
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Mighty Cow: You're positing a situation that nobody agrees with.

Take thanking God when you win a game. If God is our creator it behooves us to thank him for creating us in the first place. Alot of dangerous things can happen in a game, we can't always perceive what God actively does and so we can appropriately thank him for protecting us and bearing us up.

Simply said,

God couldn't care less which team wins. But he does care about the players themselves.

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MightyCow
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Except the ones who break bones, or are paralyzed, or killed?
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
Except the ones who break bones, or are paralyzed, or killed?

Correct, God hates those ones. Don't play any sports.
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MightyCow
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Black Fox: It is my contention that religious faith has negligible impact on a player's performance at the professional level, and as such it should be far down the list of traits selected for.

This is patently obvious, and I am certain that it will be born out by experimental evidence, in that teams with more practice and stronger, faster, larger, more talented, etc. players will consistently beat less athletic teams with more religious faith.

Further, I put forth the claim that religious people generally do not trust in their faith to do what they claim it does after the fact, because they consistently take steps to insure that their own actions are responsible for their success, and only after give credit to God.

I am well aware that many people will disagree with this, but it requires begging the question that a particular holy figure has the capacity to help in an undetectable way that just so happens to follow a set of rules that specifically avoids ever showing up in any sort of testing.

Doesn't it seem just too convenient that there are all sorts of loopholes such as, "God helps those who help themselves" which make God's alleged help both invisible and unnecessary?

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Ecthalion
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
Black Fox: It is my contention that religious faith has negligible impact on a player's performance at the professional level, and as such it should be far down the list of traits selected for.

I think we're all aware that god does not win sports for a team or for a person. The Op was making a statement that a professional level coach looked at a players faith as a determining factor for whether the player should be signed/started/drafted (whatever was implied). Just saying that it shouldn't be important doesn't really answer the question as to why it apparently IS important on a professional level. This is not the only case that i have heard of where coaches or owners have expressed a desire for a man (or woman i suppose) of faith to be on their team. Whether or not there should be no difference or if it should be that important seems to be irrelevant next to the fact that it is.

quote:
This is patently obvious, and I am certain that it will be born out by experimental evidence, in that teams with more practice and stronger, faster, larger, more talented, etc. players will consistently beat less athletic teams with more religious faith.


I think faith is a bit too intangible to measure. I also don't think that wins or championships is the best way to measure who is "better" especially in team sports. I think obvious examples are Dan Marino was an excellent QB, never won the Superbowl. Terry Bradshaw is probably not in many people's top 10 QB's of all time yet he has 4 rings. Archie manning was a great QB, barely won any games. Mark Martin has won several races, never a title (cue the nascar jokes). Scalabrini has an NBA ring, LeBron James, Patrick Ewing, and Charles Barkley don't

I think what would be a more revealing study about what effect faith has on athletes would be one where you measure the other intangibles. I think any coach would bet that an atheist who can run a 4.2/40 would beat a Christian/Muslim/Hindu who runs a 5.2/40 in a track meet, but this person might not be the person they want on their team or to represent their brand. Instead of looking at weight lifting stats or track times maybe what should be looked at is how often religious athletes will spend time watching film, what their attitude is during practice, or how they respond to their teammates, or even how their antics off the field effect the team.

In the end either way of testing this may show no difference between the religious or non-religious but it could be interesting to see the results.

quote:
Further, I put forth the claim that religious people generally do not trust in their faith to do what they claim it does after the fact, because they consistently take steps to insure that their own actions are responsible for their success, and only after give credit to God.


Hmmm... I'm not sure how you could back such a claim up. It seems like you are equivocating having faith with having the belief that god controls all of a persons processes. It is concealable that if god exists he could make me put one foot in front of the other, or he could sustain my body without me ever needing nutrients but that would, among other things, seem like a waste of god's time. Your claim seems as ridiculous as saying "HA! you are eating (sleeping, allowing molecular/particle bonds hold your atoms together, etc.), you don't really believe in God because you would never need to eat if you did!"

quote:
I am well aware that many people will disagree with this, but it requires begging the question that a particular holy figure has the capacity to help in an undetectable way that just so happens to follow a set of rules that specifically avoids ever showing up in any sort of testing.


I think you've jumped from arguing/explaining why faith is (should be?) a desirable trait in athletics to arguing the existence of god.

quote:
Doesn't it seem just too convenient that there are all sorts of loopholes such as, "God helps those who help themselves" which make God's alleged help both invisible and unnecessary?
Again i would say this viewpoint is flawed, but only in the aspect that you seem to be looking for a physical correlation between the athlete and their faith rather than looking to see what other desirable traits athlete's might have that could be effected by or rooted in their faith.

I don't think the claim was faith=wins or even faith=the best athlete. I think the question by the op is "Do athlete's which have faith have more desirable traits than non-religious athletes?" To which the Coach in question seems to suggest the answer is "yes". Now the question becomes "why"?

I don't think your views are necessarily incorrect, i just think you are arguing something different than what is being questioned here.

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Tresopax
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quote:
I don't think the claim was faith=wins or even faith=the best athlete. I think the question by the op is "Do athlete's which have faith have more desirable traits than non-religious athletes?" To which the Coach in question seems to suggest the answer is "yes". Now the question becomes "why"?
I think the answer to "why" is related to a player understanding his position in the world and seeing things with a certain perspective - knowing that it is all not just about him, but also that its part of a larger plan including his teammates, his organization, the sport, and everyone else. Connected to that is knowing that athletic successes, though generated in a large part through hard work, are also in a large part due to gifts we've simply been granted and that athletes should owe some gratitude for. Also connected to that is having a degree of confidence that when things take a turn for the worse, they will inevitably work out; religious faith trickles down into other sorts of faith. I suspect these sorts of things are what the coach is thinking of when he lists "faith" as a pillar for selecting players.
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SenojRetep
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FWIW, the St. Louis Rams' head coach is Steve Spagnuolo and the four pillars he espouses are Faith, Character, Core Values, Team First. He also, according to a NY Times bio, writes out Heb. 11:1 next to his signature: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." I was unable to find a good account of what the four pillars should be taken to mean. But from Michael Strahan's comments in the link above, it seems to at least correlate with a belief "in the system" and in "the game plan and what I'm telling you to do." The four pillars don't seem particularly outre in terms of what coaches try to focus on in building up a team.

[ June 30, 2010, 12:14 PM: Message edited by: SenojRetep ]

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Geraine
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The coach may think that those players that have faith may have higher morals. It may be because he feels that if all of the players have faith they can relate better to each other, like soldiers in military units that shave their heads.

Whether it is true or not is a different story.

Imagine throwing a few followers of noetic science in with a bunch of physicists and asking them to work together. It just isn't going to work well.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Black Fox: It is my contention that religious faith has negligible impact on a player's performance at the professional level, and as such it should be far down the list of traits selected for.
Your contention is based on...what, exactly? Your extensive knowledge and participation in professional sports? Your education in sports medicine? Your lengthy experience as a professional sports coach?

And before you change the subject, this is not to say I think religious faith is the decisive factor or even necessarily a factor at all in all situations. This is just to say that I'm wondering if you're simply an ignorant layman. That's not an insult, BTW, but a question of facts.

quote:

This is patently obvious, and I am certain that it will be born out by experimental evidence, in that teams with more practice and stronger, faster, larger, more talented, etc. players will consistently beat less athletic teams with more religious faith.

What is it about having faith that means, to you, "Don't work as hard as the other guy." People who have religious faith don't think that's what it means. The texts and leaders they look to for inspiration don't say that's what it means. Why, oh why, is it that you get to point at such people and say, "This is what you think, and it's stupid, and it's patently obvious it's stupid." Why do you get to do that, MightyCow?

quote:

Further, I put forth the claim that religious people generally do not trust in their faith to do what they claim it does after the fact, because they consistently take steps to insure that their own actions are responsible for their success, and only after give credit to God.

What, you think that a person who thanks God for a victory might not have prayed for help before the contest? As attractive as it clearly is to you to be able to determine at a remove what someone else's motivations are, you're just a guy, MightyCow. You don't have the knowledge, authority, or anything else that endows you with that right, except apparently a heapin' helpin' o' hubris.

quote:

I am well aware that many people will disagree with this, but it requires begging the question that a particular holy figure has the capacity to help in an undetectable way that just so happens to follow a set of rules that specifically avoids ever showing up in any sort of testing.

At last, a true and reasonable statement. It does indeed require begging the question. If only you stopped there. Instead you go quite a bit further than that, going on to insist folks who do beg the question are silly hypocrites who don't actually believe what they claim to believe, even though you thoroughly and consistently misstate what they actually believe, as shown above repeatedly.

quote:
Doesn't it seem just too convenient that there are all sorts of loopholes such as, "God helps those who help themselves" which make God's alleged help both invisible and unnecessary?
Too convenient to who? To you?
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Scott R
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quote:
Doesn't it seem just too convenient that there are all sorts of loopholes such as, "God helps those who help themselves" which make God's alleged help both invisible and unnecessary?
No. Calling it a loophole neglects some deeper theology-- like why God puts us through trials in the first place.

Answer that, and you're on the way to satisfying the "loophole."

quote:
It is my contention that religious faith has negligible impact on a player's performance at the professional level
On the surface, I agree.

But looking a little deeper, it depends on the religious faith, and the player's adherence to it. Do you believe that attitude and character can be affected by religion? Do you believe that attitude and character are important pieces to athletic achievement?

:shrug:

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
Do you believe that attitude and character can be affected by religion? Do you believe that attitude and character are important pieces to athletic achievement?

:shrug:

Do you believe attitude and character can only be affected by religion? (I don't think you were claiming any such thing, but it's always better to ask.)

Of the things that can affect attitude and character, is religion the best at it? Or is it one of many things that can positively affect attitude and character? And if that is so, what makes it special? (Assuming you think it is special.)

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Scott R
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quote:
Do you believe attitude and character can only be affected by religion?
No.
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MightyCow
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Rakeesh: What credentials do you have to be a complete ass? Is that just a hobby?
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Rakeesh: What credentials do you have to be a complete ass? Is that just a hobby?
For someone who specializes in zingers and pithy remarks in response to direct challenges of arguments as often as you do, MightyCow, that was pretty weak.

I suppose I can't blame you, though. I'm bein' an ass by doing mean things like 'attacking the argument and ignoring the point'. How silly and rude of me, to attack the argument!

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