Riding faith to victory

Last year, a sports phenomenon swept through the nation. Tim Tebow became a household name to even those who did not follow the NFL. It wasn’t just because of his ability as a quarterback, but because of how open he was with letting everyone know how much he loved Jesus Christ. He would start off every post game interview thanking Jesus, and would get on one knee, put his fist to his head and say a prayer every time the Broncos scored. His practice became known as “Tebowing.” Tebow is not the first athlete to show his love for his religion through sports. Many athletes before him in various sports have attributed their success to faith in their religion. It is common to see athletes thank God when winning ESPY’s or in postgame interviews following a win.,

Professional athletes are not the only ones who use religion as a way to influence their game performances.

Santa Monica College athletes also attribute their success with their faith. The football team holds a group prayer before each game.

“You’ll see a lot of teams do a prayer before a game,” wide receiver Alex Cureau said. “A lot of guys think the prayers power them through the game; you’ll see them score and they’ll pound their heart and point at the sky. There were a few games this year where I was praying for sure. In the Pierce game, I know there were a lot of times where the players dropped to their knees and were praying to God to score points.”

Athletes pray not only for a good game, but also for good health.

The Nov. 4 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Giants game saw punt returner, Chris Rainey go down with a head injury. Rainey remained motionless on the field while medical personnel came running towards him. Players on both teams all got down on one knee and prayed for the health of Rainey, who would return the following week.

“I feel that the prayers come true, especially with just keeping our guys safe,” SMC quarterback Alfonso Medina said.

Sometimes prayers do not get answered, as athletes sustain injuries that are career threatening. However, they regain their faith by the prayers from themselves and those around them. On Sept. 11, 2009, then junior Cody Williams of Santa Monica High School’s football team, sustained a devastating neck injury.

“I went in for a tackle and my head hit the guy’s hip, and I broke the C5 vertebrae in my neck,” Williams said. “I do pray all the time. I’ve never been too religious but my mom and I pray and read the bible to keep positive vibes around us. It has helped give me a good spirit and made me realize this is just a minor setback God put in my life.”

Williams has had prayers going out to him from friends and family and explains that those prayers have motivated him to make a full recovery.

Many athletes do not say a formal prayer before games like SMC’s football team, but rather have rituals instead.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat is known for putting baby powder onto his hands and throwing it in the air before every game, for luck, Michael Jordan would always have his lucky pair of North Carolina shorts with him before each game. In baseball, players often spit on their hands before they bat to bring good luck.

The SMC men’s soccer team has a different ritual they do before every game, they give a moment of silence.

“We all huddle up in a circle, we all take a knee, and appreciate what we have,” forward Christian Marcial said. “It impacts the way we play, because if we start with doubting ourselves I feel like we wouldn’t be prepared mentally.”

Forward Eric Fakhourian personally prays before he gets on the field, and thanks God after the game win or lose. He explains that the knee and moment of silence makes the team unique and unifies the team and helps them focus on the game.

While some do not specifically pray or pay tribute to a religion, they have little good luck rituals and truly believe this will bring them success from game to game.