Pujols &Tebow: Breaking new ground for Christian athletes

Albert Pujols & Tim Tebow: Breaking new ground for Christian athletes
By Guest Opinion, Oregon writer

Albert Pujols & Tim Tebow are two Christian Athletes breaking new ground into new areas not often represented by Christian sports players.   Both have been in the news this month, Pujols making history by being the 3rd person in history to hit three home runs and the 2nd to register five hits in a World Series.   ESPN labeled Pujols possibly “best offensive performance in World Series history.”    At the same time, Tim Tebow simply started as a quarterback and became the most headlined player of all the entire football review weekend.

Breaking new ground in three ways

Tim Tebow is breaking new ground for Christian athletes in three areas. First, Tebow is likely the most recognized Christian athlete. Tebow became famous for putting bible verses on his face paint which consequently created a new football rule to outlaw face messaging. Nonetheless it was called the Tebow rule. Second Tebow is also the poster child for the pro-life movement. Tebow’s mother experienced medical problems during pregnancy and her doctors recommended and abortion for which thw mother declined. That story became a Super Bowl commercial. Third, Tebow is a success story for homeschoolers who are allowed to play in public school sports. Tebow is the direct benefit of a new Florida law that allowed homeschooled children to enroll in public school sports. Since then other states (Kentucky, Alabama) have considered the open-sports policy calling it the “Tim Tebow Bill”. The fact that Tebow has volunteered to reporters that he is a virgin may be an indicator that he may be hailed by the abstinence movement (or maybe not).

Two ways Pujols is breaking new ground

For Albert Pujols he is breaking new ground in two ways.  First, Pujols is becoming one of the most recognized American from the Dominican Republic faces in the nation.   His story is a Cinderella story as Pujols grew up poor in the Dominican Republican but immigrated to America.   His family lived in New York and left after witnessing a gun fight.   From poverty and divorce parents Pujols went on to be an extraordinary baseball player.   Pujols ranks in the top 15 players in baseball history in four different ways (including on-base %, slugging %) . Pujols is an 13 time all-star winner and first one in history to hit 30 or more home runs in every one of his first five seasons.  This story is making Pujols the face of the Dominican Republic  and the American immigration experience in the same way Arnold Swarzenegger was for Austria.

The second way Pujols is breaking new ground is through his charity work with the Pujols Family Foundation.   The Foundation  raises money to help children with Down Syndrome.   He married a single parent mom who was raiser her Down Syndrome child.   The Foundation also helps his former homeland in the Dominican Republican. In the Dominican Republic his Foundation is out providing beds or shipping doctors and dentists into poverty areas. During a 60 Minutes segment he took the reporters to a baseball field his foundation helped build in his old neighborhood.  The 60 Minutes story was a good example on how some charities are becoming as popular as the celebrities promoting them (think Lance Armstrong and Livestrong).

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

Sharing faith on-field

Pujols began sharing his faith even on the field during games. Being at first base allowed Pujols to “You’d be surprised how many people I witnessed to at first base,” Pujols said. “Some of them were Christians and I encouraged them to do the same thing at their position or in the dugout with their teammates. There were some that would say their family was the most important thing in their life or money or baseball and I’d say, ‘You’re wrong.’ Then I would grab one of Mark’s books and send it to them and if I had the time before batting practice, I’d try to spend some time with them and try to witness to them.”
Emphasizing how short our lives are

A common theme in Pujols message is about the limited nature of our human lives. At one interview he mantions “ If something happens to me tomorrow, I’m going to go to heaven… I want to make sure that those people out there feel the same.” Another interview Pujols said, “Its more than baseball. Our time and life here on earth is so short. You want to take advantage of every day. We do not know if tomorrow will be here. I encourage you to make the decision today. If you do not know Christ, give God the opportunity to take control of your life like he did to me…One thing I have learned is that God is always there for us. Sometimes we are so selfish that we want to turn around and blame god for things that happen in our life. That is not the way it should be. God is always there for us.”

Website gives tribute to his faith

His website for the Pujols Family foundation dedicates a page to his testimony and another page to his Christian message. At one point Pujols responds to the common response he gets from fans who say, “I would give anything to be able to play baseball like you.”. To that Pujols says on his website “They may look at my abilities and think that being a great baseball player is the goal of my life. Believe it or not, baseball is not the chief ambition of my life. Becoming a great baseball player is important to me, but it is not my primary focus. Because I know the Hall of Fame is not my ultimate final destination.”


TIM TEBOW

On being a role model

Tebwo has said, “For me, I just want to be a good role model, like (Ex-quarterback) Danny Wuerffel was for me and several other guys that I looked up to. I want to be someone that kids can look up to in today’s society.”

ON reaching men in prison

Tebow stated, “There were people in there for all sorts of things. There were murderers and drug lords. I saw these guys break down and cry. I gave them an invitation to accept Jesus Christ and change the way they were living.In the two prisons I spoke at, 195 guys came forward. I held their hands and prayed with them. The security guys told them they weren’t allowed to get close to me, but I wasn’t worried about it. I felt like I was doing what God wanted me to do, so it was safe