Thursday, August 11, 2016

Faith & Work Focus: Tony Dungy

I was at the NCAA corporate offices in Indianapolis recently for a meeting of the President's Advisory Group, a body that provides feedback to NCAA President Mark Emmert and his leadership team. Also this past year, I was chair of our American Southwest Conference President's Council. I've come to dearly appreciate the educational value of intercollegiate athletics. Our sports fields and courts are truly our largest classrooms.

Since returning home, I've been immersed in the Olympic Games of Rio. The skill and discipline of these world-class athletes and the hours of television programming in air-conditioned comfort is the perfect remedy to our August heat.

But lost in the Olympics coverage was another powerful sports moment: the induction of Tony Dungy into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Dungy was the first African American head coach to win a Super Bowl (Indianapolis Colts, 2007). He is one of the NFL's most articulate Christians. If you are discouraged by the mean-spirited political rhetoric of this season, take 15 minutes and watch Dungy's Hall of Fame Speech here. He is a class act!

Even, if you have no interest in professional football, Tony Dungy merits being in a Hall of Fame for those who have integrated their faith and their professional work.

Coach Dungy said this at the induction ceremony: 
"I'm just sorry that my parents, Wilbur and Cleomae Dungy, aren't alive to see this, because they'd be so proud. My dad always preached to us to set our goals high and not complain about negative circumstances. Just look for a way to make things better. My mom taught us as a Christian, your character, your integrity and how you honor God were so much more important than your job title. One of her favorite Bible verses was Matthew 16:26: 'What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul.' And I know that she's happy to know that her son never forgot that verse."
Coach Dungy has said that in his 30 years of professional football, he has seen many forfeit their souls for worldly gain. Unfortunately, we've all seen this tragic trade in every industry and walk of life. Hopefully, Dungy will be an example for generations to come that it is possible to reach the pinnacle of professional success without sacrificing your faith.