Source Newsroom: Baylor University
The suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who killed his girlfriend before taking his own life on Saturday, illustrates the humanity of athletes who live under a societal magnifying glass, said the director of the sports ministry program at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary.
Pressure is intense for professional athletes, who often are placed on a pedestal, said John White, a former Olympic Training Center sports chaplain in Colorado.
A stunned friend of Belcher’s girlfriend told the Huffington Post that the couple argued over “normal couple stuff.” The friend said that the root of one argument was that Belcher “sometimes would just be down in his man cave” and that his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, wanted them to spend more time together and with their 3-month-old daughter. But the couple recently decided to work out their differences, the friend told the Huffington Post.
While not condemning Belcher or claiming to have special insights into the tragedy, White said that Baylor’s graduate sports ministry program, begun a little more than a year ago, is aimed at training future sports chaplains as they deal not only with athletes in a high-profile career, but also with their families, teammates and coaches.
White said sports ministry can give a spiritual grounding to athletes as they deal with such problems as grief, domestic violence or the temptation to use drugs to enhance athletic performance.
He said that sports chaplains too often are viewed as “almost being a sort of a rabbit’s foot. But while you want to be a Good Samaritan, you also want to be a prophet bringing direction in a culture in which things have been mis-valued, devalued and overvalued.”
While a unique postgraduate course in sports chaplaincy was launched in 2010 at the University of Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom, the concept is relatively new in the United States, said David E. Garland, Ph.D., of Truett, who holds The Charles J. and Eleanor McLerran Delancey Chair of the Dean.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.
ABOUT GEORGE W. TRUETT THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary provides theological education leading to the Master of Divinity, the Doctor of Ministry or the Master of Theological Studies degree that is centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ and consistent with historic Baptist commitments to prepare persons to carry this gospel to the churches and the world. Within the M.Div. degree program, students can choose concentrations in Biblical Studies and Theology, Christian Education, Ministry Leadership, Missions and World Christianity, Worship Leadership and Youth/Family/Student Ministry. Truett Seminary offers two Dual Degree programs - M.Div./MSW and MTS/MSW - through a partnership with Baylor’s School of Social Work and an M.Div./Master of Music through a partnership with the Baylor University School of Music. Truett soon will offer a joint M.Div./MBA degree program to prepare pastors to serve as spiritual guide and business leaders as churches increasingly face organizational and financial complexity. Visit www.baylor.edu/truett to learn more.