Friday, May 25, 2007

Your presence in the locker (changing) room is worth more than your presence in the newspaper or on television.

While you may perceive some value in being noticed by the TV camera or the newspaper writer, there is a far greater value in your being available to the players and coaches surrounding the competition’s beginning and ending. Watch as the coaches and players during pre-game preparations and as they leave the locker room or the field and pay attention to their emotions. You might be in perfect position for a very important conversation or to just sit with them in silence.

There have been several instances where the privileged information that I had would have made a real scoop for a sportswriter or television reporter, but to leak the story would have violated the trust I was building with the coaching staff and competitors. It would have also put me in the worst possible situation with the writer or reporter. They’d begin to view me as simply a source for information or stories and not as a part of the support system to those for whom I profess to care.

Let the media get their stories from someone else, you’re here for the sport participants. Avoid the temptation to be seen as the person with “inside information” or “the friend of the program.” Those designations are usually ones assigned to privilege seekers, influence brokers and athletic wannabes. You must keep your focus on the needs of your coaches and athletes.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Global Sport Chaplain Sites

Below are some links to organizations around the world which are doing a good job with sport chaplains. You may take a few minutes to see what they’re doing, to reflect upon the merits of their ideas and possibly adopt some methods, strategies or tools in your ministry with the people of sport. This is sports chaplaincy in Australia. This is the site for SRS Pro Sportler in Germany. Most of the site is in German. This is Score from the United Kingdom. They train sport chaplains across England. This is Good News Sports from Australia. This is a new site just now being launched by FCA on which I’ll be loading resources, training materials, announcing chaplain oriented events, etc… Watch for more about this.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Your presence in the coach’s office is worth more than your presence at the stadium or arena.

Taking some time to informally visit the coaching staff in their offices is often a very fruitful time. This is often a more relaxed atmosphere than on the field of competition and you can learn a lot about their values by what’s on the bookshelf, from the photos on the wall, etc… Be observant and take some time to build the trust that will be most valuable to you down the road.

In thirteen years with our (American) football team, I have had conversations with two different head coaches as they considered job offers with other larger and more prestigious programs. In both cases, our private conversations about the most important matters of life helped shape their decisions. One chose to leave, for the best possible reasons. The other coach chose to stay, for many of the same reasons. The values and priorities that we discussed in those meetings cannot be shared in a noisy stadium or in the busyness of a practice session. I’ve had numerous lunch meetings with basketball coaches desperately trying to solve staff conflicts and looking for motivational keys to certain players. We could never have had these discussions at courtside or outside the locker room. Some things must be discussed behind closed doors and with absolute confidence.

Your presence in the coach’s office will be most important when there are decisions to make about career moves, about personnel hiring and firing, about player discipline questions and more. Be respectful of their time and if you’re not invited, get an appointment. When invited to the office to meet with a coach, let him/her set the agenda and tend to their questions first. As you’re faithful to help where invited, you’ll find freedom to pursue other matters that are on your mind and heart.