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Chaplains to sports communities have existed since the middle of the 20th century and have significantly grown in the past 20 years. The United States, United Kingdom and Australia have well established Christian sports chaplaincy ministries.
In 1982 a congress held in Hong Kong on sports mission saw sports chaplains and those interested in Mission to people engaged in sports come together from around the world including recognised representatives from North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, the sub-continent and Australasia. It was this congress that created the inspiration to further develop or initiate national sports missions and sports chaplains.
Sports chaplains consist of people from many different walks of life. Most commonly, the chaplains are ministers or full-time Christian workers but always, chaplaincy work is done without charge or any financial remuneration. Often, sports chaplains to a particular sport are former participants of that sport. This helps the chaplain to not only provide spiritual support and guidance to a player, but gives them the ability to empathize and relate to some of the challenges facing the participant with whom they are ministering.
There were 193 multi-faith sports chaplains at the London 2012 Olympics.
The USA have various sport related chaplaincy organizations. Along with major Denominations, Ministries such as Athletes in Action and Fellowship of Christian Athletes also provide chaplains to various sports at the collegiate and professional levels. Every major professional sport in the United States has at least some sports chaplaincy. Some sports are more coordinated, like Major League Baseball (see www.baseballchapel.org), but most are far more loosely structured with each chaplain having a program that best suits their team and individual situation. Every MLB, NFL, NBA & Major League Soccer franchise has a chaplain. Due to financial constraints, very few chaplains travel with their teams. In some cases, especially when an individual coach understands the value of the chaplain to their team, the coach may invite the chaplain to come on a road trip. This happens far more frequently when a team is traveling a short distance to a neighboring city by bus or motor coach, but in some cases, coaches have paid (out of their own pocket) to bring a chaplain on a road trip.
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