Christianity,  Sports

Manute Bol’s Radical Christianity

manute-bol-spud-webbJon Shields says that Manute Bol was a fool for Christ. In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Shields argues that Bol’s Christianity was authentic and fruitful, even though sports writers don’t acknowledge it. He writes:

‘Bol’s life and death throws into sharp relief the trivialized manner in which sports journalists employ the concept of redemption. In the world of sports media players are redeemed when they overcome some prior “humiliation” by playing well. Redemption then is deeply connected to personal gain and celebrity. It leads to fatter contracts, shoe endorsements, and adoring women.


‘Yet as Bol reminds us, the Christian understanding of redemption has always involved lowering and humbling oneself. It leads to suffering and even death.


‘It is of little surprise, then, that the sort of radical Christianity exemplified by Bol is rarely understood by sports journalists. For all its interest in the intimate details of players’ lives, the media has long been tone deaf to the way devout Christianity profoundly shapes some of them.


‘Obituary titles for Bol, for example, described him as a humanitarian rather than a Christian. The remarkable charity and personal character of other NBA players, including David Robinson, A. C. Green and Dwight Howard, are almost never explicitly connected to their own intense Christian faith. They are simply good guys.


‘Christian basketball players hope that their “little lights” shine in a league marked by rapacious consumption and marital infidelity. They could shine even brighter if sports journalists acknowledged that such players seek atonement and redemption in a far more profound way than mere athletic success.’


  • Donald Johnson

    The reporters are just conforming what they see to their worldview. Everyone does this, in this case it does reveal their worldview does not comprehend following Christ.

  • Mike

    Interesting article. I did not know that about Manute Bol, but praise God for his faith and how he impacted the world for the Kingdom.

    On a side note, I was a bit surprised to see Dwight Howard listed with David Robinson and A.C. Green. I know Howard has openly claimed Christian faith, but he’s also had a child out of wedlock. I’m not claiming to know the state of Mr. Howard’s soul, but I wouldn’t put him on the same level as Green or Robinson.

  • Mark

    Didn’t know that he was a Christian. But just the way I saw him (the way he moved, talked, imaged himself, etc.) gave me some inkling that he might be. Rest in peace Manute.

Comment here. Please use FIRST and LAST name.