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Powerbrokers of Sport

Powerbrokers of Sport

Dr. Billy Graham once said, “One coach will impact more people in one year than the average person does in a lifetime.”

While this weighty statement may be hard to empirically qualify, for those of us who have spent our lives in and around sport, we know there is much truth to this claim. Think about it.

Of life’s discretionary domains, sport has become the number one activity that we participate in as a culture. The sheer number of adolescents who play organized sport before the age of 18 is nothing short of staggering. Because “organized sport” is hard to define, the reporting of sociological numbers are varied from one report to another. Without a consistent definition of what classifies as “organized sport,” we are left with a wide range of somewhere between 30 million and 63 million kids participating at some point in their childhood.  Regardless of which end of the spectrum we focus on, the point remains the same.

With the ever-increasing societal influence of sport, coaches are granted an unprecedented power of influence. The direct impact is most succinctly felt amongst the coach’s team members, but their influence also reaches into the peripheries of all who participate as supporters, boosters, parents, fans, officials, administrators, vendors etc. Coaches possess a real power to influence the masses because of their positional power to control sport. Coaches are the POWERBROKERS of sport.  It would do us all well to remember that great power requires great character for this to be a blessing and not a curse.

At the 2014 Global Leadership Summit, an internationally broadcasted leadership training event put on by the Willow Creek Association, Indian pastor and summit speaker Ivan Satyavrata made this compelling observation:

“Great leaders hold the scepter of power in one hand, and a bowl and towel in the other.”

In other words, the best leaders understand that the power they possess should be kept in balance with an attitude of humility and a posture of serving. This simple graphic illustrates this concept of leadership in a very thought-provoking way:

Do you approach coaching like the transactional boss whose primary (although often hidden) agenda is to build his/her own resume’ off the backs of others for the sake of job security or personal promotion?

Or do you approach coaching like the servant-leader who understands his/her PURPOSE, and views the opportunity to lead as an opportunity to invite the masses to follow you on a transformational journey towards fulfilling that purpose, allowing them to discover & fulfill theirs in the process?

As our societal love-affair with sport continues to increase in scope and influence, we as a culture desperately need coaches to define their purpose and lead the multitudes down the path of transformation. As a powerbroker of sport, will you use your power to serve… or to be served?

“The greatest among you will be your servant.” – Jesus

One of the great mysteries of the Christian faith is known as the Incarnation. The Incarnation is the belief that the second person of the Trinity (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) assumed human form in the person of Jesus Christ through a virgin birth. In so doing, Christians believe that Jesus completely remained both fully God and fully human.

Not to over-simplify the depth of mystery that can be found in this great revelation, but it can be helpful to simply think of it like this:

Jesus fully reveals the character of God AND Jesus perfectly shows humanity how we are designed to live.

If we want to know what God is like, we look to Jesus. So what do we see as we look to the person of Christ?

In His life, we see how the greatest powerbroker who ever lived wields the scepter of power in perfect harmony with a disposition of love, humility, and service to both God & mankind. In His death on the cross, we see the strength of His resolve to stay committed to the power of love & forgiveness, forgoing the power of violence, retribution, force and coercion. In His resurrection, we see the validation that His way is the right way that leads to the eternal kind of life that is not subject to death in the end. And in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, where He presently rules the nations as King of kings and Lord of lords, we see a loving King who invites us into His kingdom by faith, and gives us the task of embodying in the earth the Kingdom virtues that He Himself modeled.


This comes to us as great news! God is not the transactional boss of the cosmos who’s cracking His whip on the backs of humanity to appease His ego. Rather, In Christ we see a servant-leader who enters into our suffering and is willing to lead us on a transformational journey out of our bondage to sin and death.

As we seek to coach under Christ’s administration, may we be the type of incarnational Christians who truly model the Master. Let’s use our power of influence to serve others, as Jesus uses His power to serve us.

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Andy Brown wrote:
#truth...servant leadership in sports changes the culture instantly. When I changed my mentality years ago from the "whip cracker" to the servant leader everything was different from that moment forward. Great article Wes!

Thu, August 21, 2014 @ 1:40 PM

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