Sport and Faith: Alonzo Stagg
In 1892, a man named Amos Alonzo Stagg was hired at the University of Chicago as the men’s college football coach. He would forever be remembered for changing football in the early twentieth century. Known as the greatest football coach of all time, Stagg helped develop and evolve many college sports but primarily college football. During his time at Chicago University, he won seven Big Ten championships and went 242-112-27 during his tenure at Chicago. He gave college football a new leading edge in the United States sports world in two important roles.
As a college football coach, Stagg was known for his profound style of winning football games. His motto was to win at all costs: losing was an absolute failure. Stagg believed that sport should not be a pleasure but rather a duty to win. College football is a battlefield and his determination and motivational speeches inspired his teams to continue the essence of winning.
The pivotal fact that proved his fame and glory was that he was a Christian man who was extremely victorious on the field. Chicago University’s president hired Stagg in 1892. Shirl James Hoffman, who wrote the book Christianity and the Culture of Sports, quoted the president of Chicago University speaking about Stagg saying he “liked having a man who could direct athletics and pray at the same time.” Stagg is remembered for 242 total career wins that prove the success and impact he had. He was a popular coach that knew how to beat the system both on and off the field.
Stagg also spoke upon what it meant to be a man and what it is to be a Christian man. However, this side of living out his faith was only spoken about from the public media because Stagg was successful in college football. But in reality, Stagg was so corrupt by sport and winning that it was his chief goal in life. Throughout his tenure at Chicago, he won games but also got away with borderline cheating during games by breaking the rules.
During the 1898 football season, the president of Chicago University was quite upset when he heard that Stagg played an ineligible player during a game. Coach Alonzo Stagg called college football a game that helps grow and strengthen a man’s character. He portrayed himself as the prototypical winning Christian coach of fame despite living completely opposite of what he stood for at times. With that in mind, Stagg’s voice mattered a great deal to others because he was a success on the field for years.
In today’s day and age, competitive sports are triumphing over Christianity. Sports has brought a competitive attitude to win at all costs, despite if it goes against what you believe in. It also comes to show what popularity does to you. Stagg was so driven by winning in that his reputation, integrity, and faith is debatable. However, Stagg will still be remembered and credited as an historic influential coach but also as an example of how sport and faith collide.
To conclude, competition in sports has tarnished some Christian men and women’s reputation but it is acceptable because we all fall short it just matters more if we give God praise all the time rather then just for a win.