University of Miami head football coach told his players, “It’s a choice. If you want to just leave it at the chair, you can. If you want to take it with you, you can. If you want to give it to somebody, you can.”
Head football coach Mark Richt of the University of Miami is a Christian who is concerned about the access (or lack thereof) his players have to the word of God. This concern prompted him to give every member of his team a personalized Bible in a translation they can understand.
Richt employed the help of the team chaplain, Steve DeBardelaben, to pull off his gift to each member of the team and the coaching staff, according to the Sun Sentinel. Richt gave the Bibles out at a Sunday team meeting, but told the players it was their choice whether they wanted to accept the gift or not.
“I told the guys, ‘It’s a choice. If you want to just leave it at the chair, you can. If you want to take it with you, you can. If you want to give it to somebody, you can. But I just heard enough guys say they didn’t have one and some guys said they had older versions that were harder to understand,’” Richt told the Sun Sentinel.
Junior receiver, Braxton Berrios, posted a picture of the Bible he was given to his Instagram account. From the picture, it looks like Richt chose the New Living Translation for his players.
Safety Rayshawn Jenkins said Richt’s gift “lets us know he wants good for us.” As the Sun Sentinel article points out, this is not the first time Richt has given a gift to benefit his players. “Earlier this year, he and his wife, Katharyn, donated $1 million to the coming Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility.”
The coach has also been known to quote verses from Proverbs to his players. Richt told the Christian Post that he tells his players, “If anyone would take the challenge of reading a proverb a day, you’re going to get wiser.” Commenting on his exposing his players to the word of God, Richt says, “I just wanted to make it available to them.”
In an interview with the Miami Herald, Richt emphasized that he’s not trying to force his beliefs on the players, but instead trying to live out his his own convictions, which include how he treats the people under his authority. “I’m not trying to make anybody believe anything I believe. I just want to do things in a way that I think God would be pleased with me. That’s my goal on a daily basis…I know if I do that, I’m blessing the players I’m in charge of.”
Richt is a great example of a person in a position of leadership who is trying to help the young people (and staff) in his charge. Although sometimes it feels people in careers outside the church have their hands tied when it comes to sharing their faith, Richt’s example shows us how to tactfully operate around the restrictions.