Timothy Dalrymple on Religion and Sports
Date: February 2nd, 2014

What does it take to be an elite athlete?  And what role does faith play in that lifestyle?  We are pleased to re-run an interview with Timothy Dalrymple who knows all about being an elite athlete and religion.  Tim was part of the 1995 NCAA national championship gymnastics team at Stanford University and was on his way to the 1996 Olympic trials when he tragically broke his neck, unbeknownst to him for several days.  He recounts all the dedication and time it took to become a junior nationals champion at age 15 as well as to make it to the highest levels of collegiate competition.

We also follow Tim’s journey beyond athletics through his M.Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary, his Ph.D. at Harvard, and his current position as the managing editor of the evangelical channel at Patheos.com.  He provides numerous insights into the life of an elite athlete and how his faith played an important role in shaping his character during his journey in this world, including his career-ending neck injury on the cusp of a possible appearance at the 1996 Olympics.  The discussion of this injury alone is worth the (free) price of admission into this fascinating interview.

Tim corrects a number of misperceptions that the general public has about how religious athletes approach their faith.  Interestingly, Tim notes that what challenges one the most is not the failures, because elite athletes learn about those all the time, but the victories.  This discussion helps Tony understand the personal faith commitments of athletes such as Gabby Douglas, Tim Tebow, and Jeremy Lin.

We then turn our discussion to the incredible phenomenon of Jeremy Lin, noting how he captured the nation’s attention coming off the bench to play for a “down-and-out” New York Knicks team and leading them on a miraculous seven game winning streak in February of 2012.  Tim knew of Jeremy long before his appearance in the NBA spotlight and recalls his first discussion with him at Harvard University, where Jeremy played collegiate ball.  He then details the trajectory of Jeremy’s career based upon his recent book, Jeremy Lin: The Reason for the Linsanity.  We use this discussion to reflect upon the current state of religion in America.  Whereas many scholars and pundits have argued that America’s religiosity is in decline, the attention and adoration that athletes like Lin, Tebow, and Douglas draw — not only for their athletic performances but for their public witness to their faith — provides an indication that our nation still thirsts for heroes who celebrate their Christian faith.  Recorded: September 6, 2012.


Timothy Dalrymple’s biography at Patheos.com (you can access his numerous articles at this website).

Jeremy Lin: The Reason for Linsanity, by Timothy Dalrymple.


Eric Carter on Religion & the NFL.


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