A tennis player kneels in victory

Serving up an audio treat for Wimbledon

Bruce Gulland from Reach Beyond discusses sport and the spiritual.

The action proper of course got underway today, but yesterday morning on 16 commercial radio stations around England, listeners heard a piece of audio that not only informed and entertained about the famous championships, but also challenged them to consider a spiritual message resonating with the tournament.

Called ‘A Trophy Life?’, this 5 minute feature took an enlightening and entertaining look at the graft and process of training for and playing top level tennis, getting through a tournament, winning and losing. It included interviews with an up and coming young tennis player, a sports chaplain and a number of tennis fans, creatively mixed with pop music and effects to enhance the message.

When we reflect for a moment on all manner of events and enthusiasms that capture our society’s imagination, it’s not difficult to spot spiritual angles, parallels and insights. In the Reach Beyond UK radio team, we constantly seek to discern these ‘bridge points’ between what our culture loves and the gospel, as we create our audio to communicate a Christian message in a secular culture.

With Wimbledon, I was struck by the parallel between the ‘journey’ the players embark on through the tournament, and the Christian belief in a spiritual journey that’s also both demanding and rewarding. The hope of winning a trophy at the end also resonates with Christian ideas of grace and the gift of eternal life. We can’t all be tennis stars, but we’re all playing in the ‘tournament of life’, with the prospect of a prize that never fades. What a message of hope.

Authentic and engaging speech material for the piece was provided by interviewees with rich personal perspectives, including Carolyn Skinner, CEO of Third Space Ministries who runs an outreach there called ‘Love All Serve All’, and a fan who’d been to Wimbledon seven times.

It was heard by more than 80,000 listeners across the UKRD radio network from Cornwall to Scarborough. You can hear it by clicking here   – you may need to register first, but it’s free. Or tweet me and I can send the mp3. Enjoy Wimbledon!

Twitter: @brucegulland@ReachBeyondUK

Photo: by Carine06 [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Paul Arnold