Developing Disciples or Division 1 Athletes?

74 Million High School Athletes

Today, there are some 74 million high school athletes in the United States. Many of them aspire to compete in Division 1 athletics, and some hope to one day play professional sports. These dreams are noble, admirable, and with hard work, obtainable.

However, the gap between those high school athletes who aspire to compete in college and those who are actually given the ticket to compete is significant. According to the NCAA,

More than 460,000 NCAA student-atheltes – more than ever before – compete in 24 college sports every year.

While the college athletic environment is growing, the reality is that less than 1% of all high school student-athletes will compete at the NCAA level. From here fewer than 2% of NCAA student-athletes go on to enjoy professional athletic careers.

A Christian Perspective in a Highly Competitive Context

The modern athletic setting is a reflection of the highly competitive nature of modern society. Which begs the question, how should a Christian parent, whose children compete in sports, approach the competitive context of sports?

As a Christian, father, and high school coach, I am wrestling with this reality. My two young boys show promising athletic signs, and as a former athlete, I am attracted to the possibility that with the right training my boys might also be in the elite 1% of high school athletes. However, as a Follower of Christ, I must not only check my own ambitions but consider whether my goal should be to develop Division 1 athletes or disciples?

As much good as the athletic setting has to offer, I am convinced that my greatest responsibility as a Christian parent is to point my sons to something that will outlast a career in sports or any other career for that matter. My greatest responsibility is to disciple my boys and lead them into a lasting relationship with Jesus.

Disciples vs. Division 1 Athletes

This relationship will become the foundation on which a successful life – whether in sports or elsewhere – is built. Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor of Village Church, offers similar advice to parents who are seeking to understand the role sports should play in their child’s life.



NCAA Recruiting Facts. (2018, September 26). Retrieved from

NCAA Student-Athletes. (2018, September 26). Retrieved from

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