Kirk Cousins. Game Changer: Faith, Football, and Finding Your Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014) 192 pp. $8.09 on Amazon [To purchase, click image to left]
If there is one thing that has a penetrating influence on young boys, it is the world of sports. Sports has a unique impact on boys and the ones they look up to most are more than likely in some way involved in the sport they love.
In the United States, football is king. Young boys look up to both college and NFL players with stars in their eyes. They are not only impacted by the way they play on the field, but by the way they conduct themselves off the field. With the phenomenon of Twitter, even young boys are not kept from the lives of their favorite athletes.
For young Christian boys, there are few football players with a platform like the NFL that they have to admire for not only their athletic prowess, but also for their integrity and commitment to Jesus. The most notable would be Tim Tebow (who is no longer in the NFL) and Russell Wilson (QB for the Seattle Seahawks).
Washington Redskins quarterback, Kirk Cousins, throws his hat in the pile of influential Christian athletes with his first book, Game Changer. In Game Changer, Kirk Cousins tells his life-story and shares what it is like to live as a Christian in the NFL. Cousins not only focuses on his own life, but he also provides wonderful Christian principles for living a life that glorifies Christ in sports or anything else.
Although Cousins has walked in the shadow of the uber-talented Robert Griffin III since being drafted to the NFL, he has proven to be a more than capable quarterback. Kirk Cousins was raised in a small Michigan town and always dreamed of playing college and professional football. This dream began by receiving only one college scholarship and having to fight for the right to start. In his time at Michigan State, Cousins set many offensive records and led the school to some of its greatest success in history. He was then taken in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins. While Cousins is clearly not of the athletic guild of Robert Griffin III, he is a very talented quarterback that shows signs of being able to start in the NFL.
Game Changer is a book that takes the reader through Cousins’ journey as a football player. It is based on the principles of a speech he gave at the 2011 Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. Cousins does this in a unique way. Instead of focusing on the events in his life, he uses the events in his life teach life principles that he strives to implement. Each of these life principles is rooted in Scripture. Cousins writes, “This is a story about the greatness of God and about the fact that he is worthy to be trusted” (37).
The subtitle is a great summation of the thrust of the book. Cousins tells his story by focusing on his faith in Jesus, which grounds everything he does, his love for the game of football, and finding your way in the world by making some of the most important decisions in life.
As a writer, Cousins is compelling and honest. It was a book that I as a college student could enjoy, but at the same time is by no means outside the reach of kids. The book is geared toward ages 8 and up. It would make a great gift for young boys who love sports.
One of the most refreshing things about this book is the way Cousins weaves his faith in his story. He doesn’t talk about how he is constantly passing out gospel tracts, pointing to heaven after a touchdown, or put a cross on all of his gear. Cousins says that is not his style (22). What I find most commendable about this book for young boys is the way Cousins lives out his faith. He gives example after example of what it means to be a Christian and play football. So many Christian boys want to glorify Christ in the sports they love, but they simply do not know how. I love how Cousins says it is much more than gestures or symbols. It is deeper than that.
The focus of my faith’s expression is found in my everyday life. My faith shapes who I am as a person. My faith shapes my values; my moral choices; my friendships; my role as a football player, a son, a brother, a student, and a leader. Take my faith in Jesus Christ away, and I would be a different person living a different life (22).
For Cousins, Christ is all. It is from this foundation that he tells his story. It is from this foundation that he teaches biblical principles to be embodied in all of life. Clearly, without Christ, following the principles outlined in the book would be useless. The supremacy of Christ in his life and his dual passion for Jesus and football makes him an excellent role model for young boys who love the game. Cousins’ perspective is grounded and he humbly communicates his gratitude for God’s grace in his life. If you are not already, you will leave this book a Kirk Cousins fan.
Cousins teaches his readers that the Christian life is a changed life. Following jesus is not easy, but always worth it. Football is a great game, but it is not everything. However, the message is clear that through football and anything else, Christ can be glorified and magnified by realizing the privilege of the platform.
Game Changer is not about Kirk Cousins. It is about Jesus. In the end, Kirk Cousins is not communicated as the game changer, God is. But more than that it is about following Jesus and what this means for life as a football player. I heartily commend this book to any parent with boys who play football and to any young boy looking for a role model who exhibits both athletic and Christian excellence.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Mathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.