Chaplaincy, Mission and Elite Sport: A Cross-National Study of the Work of Chaplains in the National Football League (NFL) And English Premier League (EPL)

Whitmore, William Robert (2021) Chaplaincy, Mission and Elite Sport: A Cross-National Study of the Work of Chaplains in the National Football League (NFL) And English Premier League (EPL). PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/SE17MR11

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Whitmore (2021) Chaplaincy, Mission and Elite Sport- A cross-national study of the work of chaplains in the National Football League (NFL) and English Premier League (EPL) PhD Thesis.pdf - Accepted Version

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Background: Sports chaplaincy is an established form of chaplaincy and ministry. However, little research has been conducted on the work of sports chaplains. Of the completed research, none has compared sports chaplaincy in different countries. Aim and methods: The aim of the present study is to compare and contrast the role and function of sports chaplains within American football’s National Football League (NFL) and the English Premier League (EPL) by way of qualitative empirical investigation. The study sought to understand the roles and skills of the sports chaplain, the governance and safeguarding structures chaplain’s operate within, and the missiological approach to this form of ministry. To investigate these elements, a qualitive approach was utilized. Data was collected via semi-structured interviews, participant observations and e-mail. Eight chaplains, four from each league, participated in the study, as well as two para-church organization leaders, from the US and UK respectively. The results showed that sports chaplains fulfilled roles comparable to chaplains within other sectors of chaplaincy, such as offering pastoral care and spiritual support. However, their work was contextual, in that how their roles were utilized differed between host organizations. Overall, chaplains felt marginalized in their work, but this position also allowed chaplains to provide support during times of challenge. Furthermore, the study demonstrated that accountability and evaluation mechanisms for sports chaplains were not consistent and safeguarding mechanisms for NFL chaplains were nonexistent. Finally, chaplains consistently expressed a calling to this form of ministry and felt that their work was a witness to the love and message of Jesus Christ. Conclusions: In the high-pressure, results oriented industry of elite sports settings, sports chaplains witness to the love of God and affirm the value of the individual, regardless of their performance or on-field results. In this, they witness to the missio Dei present in elite sport.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sports chaplaincy; Mission
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2022 16:26
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 09:07

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