Video evangelism is a soccer movie genre I haven’t reviewed until now. I was contacted by filmmaker Shawn Keith, who created The Prize: Under Pressure for sports chaplains. His 26-minute piece is well-done, interspersing World Cup footage with testimonials by international players. The most well-known of these is Kaká, and Americans will all recognize USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan. The message of the film is that embracing Jesus helps players deal with the pressure of performing at the highest level.
Shawn Keith creates evangelistic sports films for Athletes in Action (part of Cru, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ). The Prize was promoted at WC 2014 in Brazil and is being globally distributed online in many languages.
What is a Sports Chaplain?
But I was curious as to what is a Sports Chaplain? I learned that Chaplains have a mission to listen to and comfort people of all faiths and no faith. Chaplains support football clubs, schools, universities, and other secular organizations. Although Chaplains are supposed to be non-denominational, many are faith-based and evangelical, emphasizing acceptance of Jesus Christ and studying the Gospel (bible study).
Within these faith-based organizations is a specialty of sports chaplaincy, where chaplains focus on the particular issues of sports players.
In the USA, The Sports Chaplains Network has an online intro course for the Global Sports Chaplaincy. The module for Session One has a pdf “Profile of a Sports Person” that is especially interesting. It cites the McCown Sport Ministry Map, which charts out why a high-profile athlete is a good disciple for the faith (i.e. role model and promoter). The profile also succinctly summarizes the fears of high-performing athletes and how to win them over. To be honest, this sport person profile reminds me a bit of the methods of Scientology.
Bruce Nadin, who wrote the bible study to go along with the film, was a Sports Chaplain at Leicester City FC. He went to South Africa in advance of WC 2010 and set up a chaplaincy at Ajax Cape Town. He has also set up a certification program for people to become Sports Chaplains (primarily in South Africa and New Zealand).
Sport as a tool for evangelism
I often complain how professional sports have become the new religion. Around the world, companies build larger stadiums in the same way that churches and cathedrals rose throughout Europe centuries ago. As seen in some of the movies I’ve reviewed, the religion of sport is often misused by corrupt politicians, as a new opiate for the masses.
The difference in today’s new religion is that sports is a business that benefits only a few people: the owners and the top players. Sports and entertainment have no charitable or societal mission. Therefore, it is interesting to see from this film that religion is flipping the paradigm, and using sport as a tool for evangelism.
As long as it is not building a covert, secretive powerful organization (like Scientology), I am supportive of any system that helps players be emotionally healthy and work for the good of the community and all genders, races, religions, and political persuasions. And I guess that’s why I decided it was okay to review this film, even though it is not meant as entertainment.
Titled as The Prize, or The Prize: Under Pressure
5 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 5