Faith in sport
Published 27 July 2012
Adrian Barnard has attended dozens of major sporting events since the mid-90s. Not as a competitor, not even as a fan – although he’s passionate about sport – but as a servant for the wider church.
As chief executive of 2K Plus International Sports Media, it’s his job to make sure that the faith stories are told just as much as the sporting achievements.
“The news outlets can already get all the sports results. What we can provide is a Christian perspective on that,” says Adrian.
He’s heading up a 13-strong team of journalists to cover the London 2012 Olympics from a Christian perspective, speaking to Christian athletes and fans, and inspiring the world with all that they’ve got to share.
His team of reporters is made up of Christians and includes some who have generously donated their own time and money to be part of it.
For the next two weeks, it will be 6am starts and 1am finishes as the team head out each day to find out more about what drives the athletes and what the fans are thinking.
“It is hard work,” Adrian admitted, recalling the time the team were in Athens to cover the Olympics and found themselves sleeping on a hard church floor.
“We try and have some laughs and keep it a happy office,” he adds.
What motivates the team to put in the unsociable hours is a love for sport and a love for building relationships with people, whether that’s other journalists or the athletes.
“What we always say is: you have to have a passion for sport to be part of this team,” he explains.
“Sport is a passion of mine and my faith is a passion. To come alongside someone with a common love of sport, there will always be opportunities to share faith.”
Although the reporters always try and ask athletes “neutral” questions, if the athlete mentions something about God, they’ll take it up further.
“Some are more open to sharing their faith,” explains Adrian.
The nature of the job means Adrian and the team are often working side by side with other journalists. Adrian is always aware that some of these people may not know anything about Jesus.
“It’s a great opportunity to be salt and light to them.”
Sometimes it’s the small things that say the most, Adrian feels. He recalls one of his staff at a previous sporting event taking the time to thank the press officer. She was surprised and replied that hardly anyone ever said thank you to her.
“There are things like that that you can do to be Christianly and for the reporters in our team, it’s a natural outworking of their relationship with God,” he said.
When 2K Plus started out 20 years ago, the team dispatched their stories to radio outlets only. Now for the first time, they are going multi-platform, with audio, video and other content designed for the era of social networking.
After London 2012 finishes, Adrian will immediately start planning for the next Olympic Games. “It takes four years of planning,” he said. Before that, 2K is also planning to be at the 2013 World Championships in Athletics in Moscow, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and the next World Cup in Brazil.
“After Melbourne, I said never again,” he laughs. “But then you look back when it finishes, at all the hard work and the people we met, and you think: that was really good.”
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