Athletes in Action

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For other uses, see AIA (disambiguation).
Athletes In Action
AIA-Cru-endorsed Blue-Red.jpg
Abbreviation AIA
Formation 1966 (1966)
Founder Dave Hannah
Type Non-profit
Headquarters Xenia, Ohio
Mark Householder
Parent organization
Mission "To build spiritual movements everywhere through the platform of sports so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus."

Athletes in Action (AIA) is a sports organization based in Xenia, Ohio in the United States. It was founded in in 1966 by Dave Hannah. It is an arm of Cru Ministries, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ and have three main components; international, collegiate, and professional. It is present in over 60 countries, 150 university campuses, has a direct influence on CFL and NFL teams, and has a strong presence in the WNBA and the national and international soccer world.


Athletes in Action was started in 1966 by Dave Hannah, who saw the need for a ministry to specifically target the student-athlete population that Campus Crusade for Christ wasn't reaching. Hannah planned for the creation of AIA teams that would compete in different sports against college teams. The AIA played matches against universities and then share their faith and experiences with the spectators at halftime. The first three sports accommodated by AIA between 1966-1967 were wrestling, track and field, and basketball. The most successful of these was basketball. The basketball department saw success in the 1976-77 and 1977-78 seasons. During this time they beat the University of San Francisco and University of Nevada, Las Vegas[1] both of whom were ranked in the top 5 in the country. The Chargers also played the Soviet Union national basketball team multiple times, winning in 1986.[2] The basketball program of the AIA declined during the subsequent years, and effectively died when the NCAA cracked down on Division 1 teams playing non-amateur teams in 2004. Other sports, like women's basketball and wrestling continue on, though to a lesser degree.[3] Athletes In Action then shifted their focus to college students during the summer as well as encouraging team Bible studies. There is full-time staff located on approximately 150 college campuses. AIA has also expanded to emphasize international ministries to students and sports professionals, as well as providing chaplains to NFL teams, WNBA teams, and many different soccer teams.



Athletes in Action is present in 60 countries around the world. The sports organization is also used for its parent organization's evangelization efforts abroad and has partnered with Christian ministries and individuals. Its athletes have participated in international competitions such as the Olympics and the World Cup, regional competitions[4] such as the William Jones Cup, and smaller local competitions.

The core of the United States national basketball team that participated at the 1978 FIBA World Championship was composed by players from Athletes in Action.[5]


Athletes in Action’s professional ministries reach out to athletes, their families, and coaches to aid them in relating their sporting career to their faith. AIA also provides an avenue for athletes and fans to exchange views regarding their faith.[4]


Athletes in Action is part of Cru, and ministers on many college campuses. They provide staff members that lead chapters of AIA and facilitate the discipleship that goes on at each location. These chapters provide resources both help to grow Christian athletes in their faith and share this faith to others. The main components of the on campus ministry are the team bible studies and, at many colleges, a weekly large group meeting with athletes of all sports. They also provide summer opportunities such as Ultimate Training Camp and an annual Winter Retreat to supplement their knowledge of Christianity and introduce them to fellow Christian student athletes. “Athletes in Action is currently present on over 200 campuses nationwide, providing a place to grow in your faith and impact others.” [6]

Involvements with Super Bowl[edit]

Among the events sponsored by Athletes in Action is the NFL-sanctioned Super Bowl Breakfast[7] which features the presentation of the Athletes in Action/Bart Starr Award "to honor the NFL player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community."[8]

Nominees are gathered from the Public Relations Directors of each NFL team, the past winners of the Bart Starr Award, the Athletes in Action Pro Staff working with NFL teams and Bart Starr himself. Ballots are sent to each team and voting takes place at the same time as the Pro Bowl selections. The award, bearing the name of the Pro Football Hall of Famer, honors Starr’s lifelong commitment to serving as a positive role model to his family, teammates, and community.


  1. ^ "March Madness for UNLV Runnin' Rebels". 
  2. ^ AIA vs USSR 1986. 22 January 2008 – via YouTube. 
  3. ^ Josh Levin (3 December 2004). "God's favorite basketball team.". Slate Magazine. 
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ Ramirez, Bert (6 August 2014). "Looking back: Dalipagic, Yugos win 1978 World Championship in Manila (Part II)". Rappler. Retrieved 31 January 2016. The Americans, then represented by the core of the Athletes in Action team in a reflection of the minimal importance the US then placed on the World Championship... 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Super Bowl Breakfast". 
  8. ^ Bart Starr Award

External links[edit]