Free & Fit Archives - University of Gloucester Sports Chaplaincy Essay 2 - May 2016 by Tim Cheux

Free & Fit Archives - University of Gloucester Sports Chaplaincy Essay - May 2016 by Tim Cheux

Recent Picture of Tim Cheux having completed the London Marathon for Sports Chaplaincy UK

In terms of the kinds of values and characteristics which they promote, sports chaplaincy and modern day professional sport are incompatible bedfellows. Critically discuss.


Sports chaplaincy and modern day sport may appear to be very different at first glance. This essay seeks to identify distinguishable positive and negative characteristics in both through real life examples, referencing scholarly articles to provide sufficient evidence of whether or not the two are compatible bedfellows.

The sports chaplain's role can be received with less credibility than modern day sport by some. More often the role of a sportpsychologist or a life coach, in a more traditional secular role, is received with more credibility and standing in the sporting world than chaplaincy. The role of sports chaplain is often as a volunteer, serving in addition to other work or ministries thus diluting the core purpose of the role. This paper concludes that despite the negativity surrounding sports chaplaincy and muscular Christianity, there exists a vital relationship between sport and faith in sports chaplaincy that the church must utilise fully. In building relationships, founded on strong muscular Christian values, sports chaplaincy creates opportunities for chaplains to minister and to witness their Christian faith to a world that would otherwise continue to function in a gambling, money grabbing and fame driven environment.

Discuss the underpinning values of sport/sports chaplaincy

The values of sport are heavily based upon the culture and tradition of the education an individual receives whilst at school. The first experience of riding a bike, learning to swim, playingin a sports team or playing an individual racquet sport will often take place in extra curricular sporting session with a school teacher. Therefore, the direction of a head teacher will alwayshave a clear influence on the way in which sport is delivered to year groups by teachers either one to one or in a group class whilst students are studying sport at school. During the Victorian era, whilst in his time as Headteacher at Rugby School Thomas Arnold ensured that school pupils at Rugby were educated with strong masculine values such as self discipline, respect, trust and manners. During his time at Rugby between 1828 and 1841 Arnold identified his faith in a Christian God to be the center of his aims to transform and revolutionise the school by instilling the value of Christianity and creating a culture of ‘good Christian gentlemen’ (Parker and Weir, 2012).

The need for sporting rules and values to be enforced in schools stem from a Victorian era when chaos, disorder and unruly behavior were common practice on the playground. Sports were not regulated in the past and teachers were certainly not expected to deliver sport as a lawful game or as part of the wider school extra-curriculum.

Origin of muscular Christian ideals

Thomas Kingsley and Thomas Hughes are the more common known authors of muscular Christianity as students of Thomas Arnold at Rugby via . However, unusually, Muscular Christianity relates may originate the secular term “muscle men” meaning physical, weighty and aggressive (Hughes, 1999). In fact it is possible that the Muscular part of the term could originate from a different source to the more common written text and scholars suggest of English public schools. Instead it maybe be likened to men and the ritual of eating meat in an almost pre-historic tradition of hunting! This definition is clearly focusing on the muscular elements of the term via the ritual of hunting as a “manly sport” (Gelfer, 2103).

However, it is more likely that the introduction and regulation of sport as a formal recognised compulsory activity in the education system raised the profile and defined the values of Masculine christianity. Furthermore, it built the foundation for sports as a whole in the English public schools system during the nineteenth century. In his book Sport, Power and CultureHargreaves(1986) cites Maguire (1993) as saying that the English notion of “fair play” in public schools lead to the codification of sport and what eventually lead to an ethos and culture of Muscular Christianity that was effectively diffused to continental Eur