"Big Four" Highlights


Fit for Heaven

Top Catholic athletes talk integrating sports and religion in their lives

“I have competed well; I have finished the race,” proclaims St. Paul “I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). For generations such trial and stamina have been taught in terms of fidelity’s prize, an everlasting award that awaits those who live and proclaim the faith with patience and perseverance, even in the face of persecution.

Rigor and reward also hold prominent places in athletic competition, similarities certainly not lost on the Catholic athletes, coaches, broadcasters and executives interviewed in Fit for Heaven (Dynamic Catholic, 2015) by veteran sports reporter Trent Beattie. In his latest book, Beattie compiles five years of his interviews for the National Catholic Register and Catholic Digest – primarily with professional football, baseball and soccer stars, but also with personalities from the worlds of tennis, bobsledding, gymnastics, golf, and college sports – to showcase how it is entirely possible to mix love for sports with a faith founded in Love.      

A resident of Seattle, Beattie took time to answer email questions from FFG managing editor Jason Godin.

Fathers for Good (FFG): How have you found your introductory statement “if you know a man’s thoughts and prayers, you know that man” (p. 11) most influences what you ask – or don’t ask – in an interview?

Trent Beattie: Wanting to know what’s going on inside the athlete does influence my questioning the most. Almost everyone already knows what the athletes have done in their careers, so I’m not as interested about that as I am about what they were thinking before, during and after their achievements. What is their motivation? Why do they think what they do is worth doing? What do they value most?

FFG: You specifically mention discipline and sacrifice as twin concepts shared between sports and the spiritual life. Did you find any others in your interviews?

Beattie: There are many concepts shared by sports and the spiritual life, but one of the most common I’ve seen in top athletes is what might be called “active faith.” The athletes believe they can do certain things, which others might think improbable or impossible, and they back up their beliefs with actions.

The same thing needs to be true in the life of a Christian. A lot of people think living out the Ten Commandments is very difficult or even impossible. However, the Christian with active faith knows this is not the case. He knows that all things are possible through prayer and the sacraments. While doubters sit on the sidelines, the Christian with active faith is in the game and doing great things.

FFG: Older dads looked up to “big-name” Catholic athletes like Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas and Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals. What would you say to a younger dad that says all the “big-name” Catholic athletes are gone, so why bother caring about an athlete’s religious affiliation?

Beattie: I’ve spoken with Catholic Super Bowl champions; World Series champions; and Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medalists, so the “big name” athletes of the Church are still out there. It’s a matter of getting their stories in front of more eyes, which is the reason for the book.

Visit Dynamic Catholic to find out more about Fit for Heaven.