arrow-orange arrow caret-dark-graycaret-orangefacebookinstagramlinkedinlogo-accentlogo-wordmarkplay-circlesearchsoundcloudtwitteryoutube

Events and Learning Cohorts

Loading Events

Winning the REAL Prize — Faith, Sports, and Culture

Wed 10.25.23 @ 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CDT

  • This event has passed.
Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air… 1 Corinthians 9:24-26
The Apostle Paul uses a sports metaphor to describe the focus, self-control, and motivation driving the Christian life. During his era, individual sports such as foot-racing, archery, boxing, discus throwing, and high-jump were common. Sport was a cultural force and sometimes violent spectacle. Fierce self-discipline was required to excel and survive.

Roughly 1600 years after Paul penned his letter to the Corinthians, King James I of England set about legislating and publishing the Book of Sports that clergy were ordered to read from the pulpit. Sports had become a flashpoint between Catholics and Puritans. The king partly wanted to disrupt the Puritans in their quest to gain influence in a mostly Catholic English government. He also wanted to advocate for public enjoyment of sports such as dancing, leaping and vaulting—but not bowling. Activities such as these, he wrote, had their benefits for “our good people’s lawfull Recreation.”

Today, Christians of all stripes pursue such “lawfull Recreation” every day of the week. Often intensely. Sometimes with questions about the “good” of this activity and our “devotion” to certain teams or athletes. This topic is deeply familiar to Ron Sanders, currently a religious advisor to the football team at Stanford University and the Coordinator for Moral and Spiritual Formation for Cru. Ron will talk about the influence and distraction of athletics, and how athletes shape culture. We will consider: How do we genuinely appreciate athletic achievements but avoid exchanging worship of God for worship of athletics? How do we discern differences between “superstition” and “rhythms of grace?” When we can’t control the outcome of a game, how does our faith shape our perspective, even if we aren’t elite athletes?

All of this is personal: but it’s far more than that. The U.S. sports market generates $83.1 billion annually. That equals a lot of time, money, and attention: Where does faith fit in when it comes to winning?

Ron Sanders

Ron Sanders is an Affiliate Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary. His field of research is the intersection of religion and public policy—especially the relationship between the Christian Tradition and the Democratic Tradition in America.He is the author of After the Election: Prophetic Politics in a Post-Secular Age and a chapter in Justice and the Way of Jesus.  He has also served on the staff of Cru for 32 years. He is currently a religious advisor to the football team at Stanford University and the Coordinator for Moral and Spiritual Formation for Cru.
Ron is married to Bonnie and has two adult children, Zac and Sarah. Ron graduated from Montana State University with a B.S. in Mathematics, Talbot School of Theology with an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics, and Fuller Theological Seminary with a Ph.D. in Theology with an emphasis in Christian Ethics. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Ron and his family began to play hacky-sack during quarantine, and when his family is all together in one place, they can be found trying to recruit people for their “circle.” He wants to be an amateur chef and plays competitive pickleball in his free time.



Wed 10.25.23
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CDT
Event Categories:
, , ,


Daniel Johnson


Upper House
365 East Campus Mall, Suite 200
Madison, WI 53715 United States
+ Google Map
View Venue Website