OCALA, Fla (BP)–“Show me the money” — a quote from the movie “Jerry Maguire” — all too often is the philosophy in athletics and sports agencies, said Ken Ford, director of Christian Athletes Sports Agency.
Ford wants to present a different philosophy in his sports agency — one that helps athletes make a difference in a young person’s life.
“I had a vision of beginning these Christian sports camps,” Ford said. “My first question was, How do we finance these camps and couple professional athletes with youth? God then gave me a vision of starting an agency to fund the camps while I was out mowing my yard one day.”
The CASA mission statement is: “The home for athletes who want to make a difference with their lives through their God-given talent.” Based in Ocala, Fla., CASA is the first and only nonprofit sports agency in the NFL.
Any money made goes straight into the Camp of Champions fund, a branch of Power Source Ministries, also founded by Ford. The funds then are allocated to meet the needs of each individual sports camp.
Ford, a father of three, has been a Florida Baptist minister since 1983. He served First Baptist Church of Dunnellon, First Baptist of Tavares, First Baptist of Cape Coral and First Baptist of Perrine.
“My motivation is not the almighty dollar,” Ford said, “so I glean not a penny of the money we make from the players.
“You can either pay an agent and the money will go into his pocket,” Ford added, “or you can pay us and the money will go into camps that make a difference in a young person’s life.”
Ford started CASA in the spring of 1999, after he was certified with the NFL Players Association that January. The first player signed was Tim Cross, a graduate of Carson-Newman College, a Baptist-related college in Tennessee.
Though Ford is only certified to advise NFL players, he hopes to make CASA open to all sports. The biggest obstacle, he said, is getting licensed and registered in each state.
“For each state you operate in, you have to be registered by that state, which costs a lot of money,” he said.
“This whole business is built on relationships and contacts,” Ford explained. “For example, if we know someone who is a college roommate of the next star football player, and we get him signed with us, then eventually the word will get around and we will have established a reputation for ourselves.”
Last fall, Ford sent out 2,500 letters promoting the agency and has hired two outside sports agency consultants who have 30 years of combined experience.
Each camp funded by CASA is designed to surround young, unchurched athletes with Christian athletes, coaches and leaders. A program is set up at each camp that challenges students to do their very best athletically and spiritually.
Ford said he considers CASA not only an outlet for Christian athletes to minister, but an outreach for unbelieving athletes.
“Most athletes that will come to us will be Christians,” he acknowledged, “but if an unbelieving athlete wants to share his heart with young people, then I’ll pour my heart into him, and in that way we make it an outreach.”