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God and Sports, an Interview: Stephen Altrogge, author, Game Day for the Glory of God

Posted Sep 22 2008 11:03am

Why did you think it was important to write Game Day for the Glory of God: A Guide for Athletes, Fans, and Wannabes?

For many Christians, sports play a huge role in their lives, consuming vast quantities of their time. Sports are a wonderful gift from God and a wonderful means of sanctification, and each game presents the athlete with an opportunity to grow in Christ-likeness. Unfortunately, it sports seem to be a somewhat neglected topic, with very little written on the subject. My desire was simply to help people think biblically about the topic of sports.

Are you an athlete? Tell us a little bit about your experience with athletes and/or athletics in general.

I’m a limited athlete. I love watching and playing sports and played organized baseball from age 9 to 19. I also play pickup basketball on a regular basis and have played in several church athletic leagues, although that hardly counts as being an athlete. So I guess you could call me an athlete in the same way you could call Taco Bell Mexican food. I try.

Could you give us an example of a situation when participating in sports where one could be tempted to sin and how to respond biblically?

Yikes. I could give you hundreds of examples from my own life. I’m often tempted to be sinfully proud about my athletic abilities, and I want others to recognize my abilities and praise me for them. The biblical response however, would be for me to recognize that all of my abilities are a gift from God and to thank him for giving me some measure of talent. When I play well my first response should be to transfer all glory to God.

How would this advice differ for someone who might not play sports, but loves to watch sports?

Watching sports is an opportunity for us to worship God. When I see LeBron James make an incredible play, I’m seeing a faint reflection of the glory of God. Excellence on the playing field gives us a faint glimpse of the excellence of God. When I witness an athlete do something incredible, I can seize that moment to praise God for his glory.

Could you whet the appetite of our readers a little bit? What are some of the specific issues you sought to address in your book?

Sure. Just a few questions that I seek to answer are:

- How do we live life for the glory of God?
- How do we use our athletic abilities to glorify God?
- What’s the connection between God and the joy we experience while playing and watching sports?
- What are God’s priorities for us on the playing field?
- How do we win and lose for the glory of God?
- What is the role of parents in helping their children play sports for the glory of God?

How has application of the principles outlined in your book served you in your own life?

This book was partially written out of my own struggles, and I’m still trying to apply the principles in the book to my own life. For example, before I play pickup basketball I often take a few moments to pray. I ask God to help me play for his glory, to play humbly, and to encourage others. When I’m done playing sports I seek to thank God for the gift of sports and the gift of my healthy body. But I’m definitely a work in progress.

What are some other resources you might recommend for those desiring further study of this topic?

C.J. Mahaney did an excellent blog post entitled “Fathers, Sons, and March Madness”, which actually appears as an appendix to my book. You can also view the post online at the following link: http://blog.t4g.org/2006/03/let_the_madness.html

I saw that you have self-published a book about your father, Mark Altrogge. How has your relationship with him shaped your views on athletes, fans, and wannabes?

My dad has been the single most influential person in my life when it comes to my spiritual life. He taught me to be dependent on God before each baseball game by praying, to respect and honor my coaches, and to set an example for my teammates. And he taught me to see the glory of God everywhere, including the arena of sports. I’m the better athlete however!

Besides being a published author, you are also a gifted songwriter and musician. Do you have any new albums or songs coming out soon?

Sovereign Grace Ministries is releasing an album this August that’s based on the Psalms. I have two songs on the album.

Most of my readers are athletes, sports enthusiasts, or simply people who desire to take care of their health. With that in mind, I always must ask at the end of my interviews something about exercise. What is your current exercise regimen?

Regimen might be too strong of a word. I play basketball as much as I can, go for walks with my wife, and generally try to stay in decent shape.

Thank you so much, Stephen, for taking time to share about your upcoming book, Game Day for the Glory of God: A Guide for Athletes, Fans, and Wannabes. You may preorder Stephen’s book from Good News & Crossway by clicking here.

More about the author:

Stephen Altrogge  works as a pastoral intern at Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA, where his main duties include leading worship, working with college students, and shining his dad’s shoes. He also has written several worship songs that have been included on Sovereign Grace Music albums. Stephen is the author of the book Game Day For the Glory of God: A Guide For Athletes, Fans, and Wannabes, which will be published by Crossway Books in September 2008.  Stephen, along with his father Mark, are the writers at The Blazing Center Blog. When not shining his dad’s shoes, you can find Stephen drinking coffee or playing video games. You can contact Stephen by clickinghere.  

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