Faith, football combine in Mississippi
When Tupelo civil rights attorney Jim Waide purchased an arena football team last year, he wanted to not only provide quality sporting and entertainment, but also offer a chance for spectators to hear the gospel. So before every Mississippi MudCats home game in Tupelo, a religious speaker shares his faith -- and many halftime shows feature drama teams from Northeast Mississippi churches.
Waide says the MudCats coaching staff sets a Christian example, both on and off the field. "There's a real thought in football circles that you have to curse [at] the players, and the football coach is known as a very profane, abusive person -- [but] our coaching staff has proven that that's not necessary," says the team owner.
"Our coach, Brian Brents ... starts every game with The Lord's Prayer," Waide continues. "And you'll notice, you see the sign, Brent has over there on the hall going down into where the players enter -- 'With God All Things Are Possible.' So that's Coach Brent's philosophy, and he's proved that you don't have to be a profane, abusive-type person to be a football coach."
After winning on the road Friday night in Columbus, Georgia, the MudCats have the best record in the American Indoor Football Association (AIFA) this season. Through eight games, the MudCats are undefeated. In fact, the two-year-old franchise has never lost on its home field.
Head coach Brian Brents says Christians on the team realize they are role models and try to stay grounded. "I really try to try [to remind them that] when you're out there on the football field, make sure you don't slip up," he shares.
"Sometimes I know, as Christians, [we] do slip up -- and it's a hard spot to let these guys know that, hey, you are being watched. And I think a lot of these guys realize that," Brents continues. "It's amazing when they go into the schools and the kids treat them like they play for the Dallas Cowboys or the Tennessee Titans, so they come back and realize ... those kids are watching us and we better set a good example."
As the number-one rated kicker in the AIFA, the MudCats' Trey Crum realizes that his spot on the team gives him many opportunities to talk about true success.
"Thank God that there is favor and ability in what God has given me, because it opens doors that the enemy himself cannot shut," says Crum. "So this is just a bonus to be able to do this -- to be in somewhat of a spotlight, to share Christ with others. And if that's the way God chooses to use me, praise God."
Team owner Waide encourages people to investigate arena football and attend a game in their area. Several other AIFA teams, he says, have started featuring a religious speaker before games. Franchises in the 16-team league stretch from Florida to Pennsylvania to Arizona.
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American Indoor Football Association Stories from May 15, 2008
- This Week In The AIFA Covers Week Ten Of The AIFA Season - AIFA
- MudCats host Military Appreciation Night - Mississippi Mudcats
- Faith, football combine in Mississippi - Mississippi Mudcats
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