Some years ago, when I won a silver medal during the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games with a broken arm, on live TV the media questioned me on how I did it. I responded, "The Lord was my strength," and I gave all honor to Christ. Notwithstanding, 2012 gold medalist, Gabrielle Douglas, made Olympic history by becoming the first African-American gymnast to claim a gold medal in both the individual all-around and team competition. When asked by the media how she accomplished her goal, she replied, "It was my faith in God that saw me through." . . . which leads me to the question, "Should professional athletes be using public platforms to talk about their personal beliefs in the Lord, or should this be something kept private or only with close friends and loved ones?"
I believe it's a blessing for these gifted individuals to use the various forms of the media to talk about God and Jesus—even if it means some might be offended! I imagine the Lord is very pleased with any believer who isn't ashamed of Him.
Now let me make it clear that there is a significant difference between giving a brief testimony and a Sunday sermon. A delicate balance is needed and should be applied. However, with the right touch of wisdom, those who are used to the spotlight usually know how to give a brief testimony of their faith and continue on with the interview.
Whether we agree with this or not, our society has elevated movie stars and professional athletes on a pedestal for the entire world to see and hear! Corporate sponsors pay premier athletes millions of dollars to wear and endorse their products. These men and women are given financial bonuses if they verbally mention their respective sponsor(s) because advertisers know the value and vehicle of influence most professional players bring with them. Likewise, it would only seem natural for Christian athletes to mention their main sponsor, Jesus Christ.
The Bible talks about God wanting to make His people "fishers of men." To catch fish, you need something worth catching. In this case, the "bait" is the success and fruit of the professional athlete. Children are initially drawn to these individuals due to their accomplishments. However, most Christian athletes will be the first to tell you that it was God's anointing and gifting on their lives that made them successful.
I am confident that many of these Christian athletes are being led by the Holy Spirit to use their given opportunities to testify on behalf of God and Jesus. They are all being provided windows of opportunity to reach millions of people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not many Christians have ever had such a wonderful chance to reach so many people off of one platform! I believe that all Christians should be willing to support professional athletes who have the courage and faith to testify about the Lord in the public arena.