As reported several months ago, the Brazilian government pledged to spend at least $900 million on security for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. They said that it would be "one of the most protected sports events in history." A CNN article in 2012 said that the government plans on having one police officer per every 50 people at each soccer match and one per every 80 people at other viewing events around the country...

What would it be like to be an MLB umpire? To deal with the continual verbal onslaught from players, coaches and fans? To be constantly reminded of your mistakes and treated like you are hardly human? ESPN The Magazine recently ran a feature story about Pastor Dean Esskew and his ministry for MLB umpires, examining the lives and struggles of a group of people that are neglected in the world of sports. From the article: "Pastor Dean has baptized 66 professional umpires, calling them safe in the only way that matters." Click here to read...

I parked my car and hurried into the gas station to buy a bag of ice. It was 5 a.m., and I was running slightly behind. I had started coaching a golf team at a Christian high school in Charlotte that spring, and it was the morning of our conference tournament, our biggest tournament of the year. Though I was hesitant to accept the position, I looked back on the season and believed it might have been the best thing I had done with my life in a long, long time...

They are calling Group G the "Group of Death" in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, consisting of Germany, Portugal, Ghana, and the United States. Merely advancing out of the group would be an incredible accomplishment, especially for the United States. The fact that it's a more difficult road for, say, a team like the United States, almost makes the journey more exciting. The greater the pain, the more scars there are, the greater the reward...

Atlanta Braves 24-year-old star Freddie Freeman lost his mom to cancer more than 10 years ago when he was in his early teens. At first, he asked the question many ask when a loved one is lost: Why? Why did this happen? Why did she have to go so soon? Why? Why? Why? Early on Freeman pushed God away, but a few years ago he came to the realization that God took his mom so she wouldn't have to suffer any longer...

Our biggest breakthrough moments sometimes come when we least expect them. In 2005, United States goalkeeper Brad Guzan had thought he played poorly in place of Chivas USA’s injured keeper. The squad finished with an abysmal 4-22 record in its first season, and Guzan believed much of it fell on him. “I was young,” he says. “I wasn’t sure I was ready mentally, physically…"

The putt only covered 15 feet, but it seemed more like 100 to the gallery gathered at the eighteenth hole at Pinehurst No. 2 on that early Sunday evening in June 1999. It traveled uphill, broke ever so slightly to the right...and slipped gently into the cup. Payne Stewart, wearing his trademark knickers and argyle socks, hoisted the ball up to the heavens. The crowd roared. And for the second time in his career, Stewart was crowned champion of the U.S. Open--the most prestigious event for American golfers. The victory would be his last on the PGA Tour. Four months later, on October 25, 1999, Payne Stewart entered the gates of heaven after his private jet plowed into a dirt field in Minot, South Dakota, taking the lives of Stewart and three business associates. His death at only 42 years old shook the golf world and the entire nation...

"For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree." 1 John 5:7-8 The official slogan of the 2014 FIFA World Cup is "All in One Rhythm," or, in Portuguese, "Juntos num so ritmo." I love these four words. Not only is it a perfect description of the World Cup—how teams from around the world come together to participate in the sport of soccer, all in one rhythm— but it also makes me want to apply it to my own spirituality...

There is an hour-long video online titled “The Integrity of the Christian Faith Pt. 1,” featuring pastor Ebo Taylor and Cameroonian soccer midfielder Eyong Enoh. The video is produced by an organization called “Sons of God Intercessory Ministries (ICWC) Europe,” and as of March 10, 2014, the video only had 64 views...

I’ve dislocated my knee twice while playing basketball. What’s just as frustrating as the dislocation itself, however, is what happens to the quad muscle after the injury. It shuts down. In order to get back out on the basketball court, even after two surgeries fixed my knee cap, I had to hook an electric stimulator up to my quad multiple times a day, for several weeks straight, just to fire up the muscle again. It was as if my quad completely forgot how to function, even after the surgery...

Clint Dempsey was in kindergarten when he discovered that he loved soccer. The exhilaration of scoring goals was exactly what he needed to deepen his love for a game that has taken him all over the world and allowed him to play at soccer’s highest level in Europe and in the United States. “My parents had started me in the sport to help me learn good people skills,” Dempsey says. “Little did I know that the sport I loved and the skills I learned would later play a role in my relationship with God...”

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 When everything is on the line, when everyone is watching, when you or your team are counting on you for the next shot or the next play—this is the situation that true competitors always dream of and want to participate in. As a golfer, I dream of sinking a slick, downhill, 20-foot putt on the 18th hole at Augusta National to win the Masters Tournament by a shot. No matter the sport, we all want to finish strong. We want to always be able to look back in time and say that we did our best and put it all on the line in certain situations.

Almost 1,000 foreigners have played in the Japanese professional baseball leagues since 1951. Venezuelan-born Alex Ramirez is the only one to have achieved 2,000 career hits in Japan, and he is not shy about giving credit to God for his success. Ramirez joined the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of Japan’s Central League in 2001. He went on to become arguably the best foreign player in Japanese baseball history, playing 13 seasons for three teams...

Many of us struggle with the constant pressure to be perfect within athletics. We get caught up seeking unreliable affirmation through our performance, so when things don’t go our way we feel discouraged. Tryouts are a great example. We work day in and day out to prove we are worthy of a spot. Summers, we run sprints in the heat. Nights, we lift in the weight room. It feels like every second is spent honing our skills. But, the challenges don’t just stop after making the team. That’s just the beginning...

"Then he said to them all: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'" Luke 9:23 In the above passage, we see that Jesus tells us what's needed to be His disciple. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross each day and then follow Him. What does all of that mean, though? Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis, who led the majors in home runs (53) and RBIs (138) last season, delves into that: "...As I got older, I realized it wasn't about going to church or managing your sin, but about daily dying to myself and surrendering my life to Christ..."

The scene is repeated, over and over. A new spectator has decided to come watch the motorcycles race, on a dirt-surfaced oval track. Eighteen of the high-powered bikes roar off of the line, sending plumes of dust and dirt in their wake. Inches apart, sometimes even closer, the riders slide through the turns. Accelerating down the straights, they repeat their battle in the next turn...

Manhattan College men’s basketball coach Steve Masiello had just led the program to the most wins in 10 years, and the Jaspers ended the season by nearly beating defending national champion Louisville in a much talked-about first round NCAA tournament game. That success earned Masiello praise on the national level and also an interview and job offer from the University of South Florida to take over that program. He took the job and everything seemed perfect...

Our April 2014 DigiMag is now available for viewing. Log in here to view. To receive 12 issues of Sports Spectrum magazine a year, subscribe HERE. This issue includes exclusive feature stories on Anthony Tolliver, Cody Zeller and Luke Ridnour of the Charlotte Bobcats. It also includes an in-depth feature on one of the best players in Japan's professional baseball league, Alex Ramirez. Managing editor Brett Honeycutt writes about what Steve Masiello’s situation at Manhattan College can  teach us about humility, mercy and second chances. Enjoy.

This issue is Sports Spectrum's largest undertaking and likely our most important edition since the magazine began in 1985. Not because of the amount of stories we are giving you, our readers, about athletes playing the world's most watched, and arguably the most popular sport, but because of the potential impact this issue can have on others around the world. That potential impact is made possible because the 2014 World Cup issue is being produced in 14 languages and will be used by ministries all over the world during the World Cup -- through the internet, via mobile devices and also on the ground as the World Cup is being played...

What does it mean to be rich? When Stan Musial signed his 17th contract in 1958, he became the first National Leaguer to make $100,000. He was rich. In 1975, Catfish Hunter signed as a free agent for five years with the Yankees, making more than $3 million. He was richer. In 2012, Albert Pujols signed a 10-year deal with the L.A. Angels for more than $250 million. He is very rich. There is a permanent way to become “rich.” When a person acknowledges he is a sinner and trusts in Jesus as his Sin-Bearer, he becomes rich in at least three ways. He becomes rich in grace...

Randy Johnson. Just the mention of his name elicits a collection of defeated, almost fearful responses from major league hitters. Some shake their head and laugh nervously. Others ponder their fate for a moment...then shrug their shoulders in resignation. Still others take a deep breath and slowly exhale as if they've narrowly escaped death. Remember the 1993 All-Star Game? The always colorful, left-handed hitting John Kruk stepped in to face Johnson. The 6-foot-10 inch southpaw promptly sailed a fastball over the first baseman's head. That's all Kruk needed. He was finished. He was transformed into a wide-eyed little leaguer batting for the first time as he bailed...

Game 2 of the 2013 National League Championship Series was a classic for baseball purists. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the L.A. Dodgers 1-0 behind 22-year-old rookie pitcher Michael Wacha. Each batter Wacha faced represented the tying or go ahead run. The tension was thick in every inning...