Maybe you’ve seen AO1 on your kids’ shoes, or maybe the tag showed up on your social media feed when a sports personality used the game-day Christian cliché. Perhaps you even know it’s short for Audience of One, but what does this image you see on kids’ shoes really mean?
Because the game-day cliché has become so widely spread, and athletes of all different levels, as well as of all different levels of understanding and Christian maturity have promoted ideas that have not exactly been correct. For example, Athletes in Action says that AO1 “doesn’t mean playing ‘for God,’ as though we are performing for Him, trying to earn His applause or favor by being successful in our competition.”
It also doesn’t mean that God is going to give the athletes extra skill or blessings because they’re announcing their faith. AO1 doesn’t mean that it’s God’s priority for a certain athlete to win. AO1 does not automatically rid an athlete of game-day anxiety or stress. According to Athletes in Action, it even doesn’t mean that athletes are going to instantly stop caring what other people think or that they’ll be immune to criticism of fans, coaches, or others who have watched them perform. It also doesn’t mean that it’s wrong for athletes to gain momentum that is sometimes created by a crowd in a stadium or other game situations. So what’s the real reason for putting this on athletes’ shoes?
So What’s the Real Meaning Behind AO1 on Kids’ Shoes?
AO1, or “audience of one” reminds Christian athletes of the verse, Acts 17:28, which says, “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” To take that a step further, it is Jesus who gives us life, it is Jesus who gives us the ability to move and succeed in games, matches, races, and so on, and it is Jesus who defines us and gives us an identity. Because of that athletes remind themselves through AO1 that God’s glory and pleasure is what they seek above everything else. Check out this TikTok video of an athlete adding AO1 to their shoes:
@_godlovesusall_ audience of 1 ~ #christian #christiantiktok #God #soccer #athlete #baseball #track #volleyball #football #aone #AO1 #hockey ♬ Homage – Mild High Club
With athletes, this is particularly powerful because their task to win in their sport of choice can easily take their eyes off of God’s glory and put it on themselves. And they can easily take their eyes of Christ as the one who identifies them and look to fans, success, and others for approval. Hannahmeyer.19 added AO1 to her shoes as a reminder that she’s playing for God when swimming, running track, or playing volleyball, basketball, or golf. The proof is in her TikTok clip:
@hannahmeyer.19 AO1= Audience Of One. GOD #christian #christiantiktok #God #fypシ #foryou #athlete @carlee.pharris #volleyball #basketball #Golf #Track #Swim #AO1 ♬ original sound – zSarayu
The game-day cliché began to surface decades ago when Athletes in Action lead the way in talking to collegiate and professional athletes at their sports camps about AO1. And after Athletes in Action began teaching this idea, many other organizations and coaches began to encourage athletes to take on this idea of playing to bring pleasure to Jesus. That’s how it began to show up on players’ shoes, clothes, and other places. In cadyn_potvin’s TikTok clip, she gives a shout-out to Jesus Christ as she writes AO1 on her shoes:
According to Athletes in action, AO1 reminds athletes to maintain an awareness of God’s consistent presence. The reminder on the shoes or elsewhere is to keep game-day results in perspective with God’s kingdom values so that a win or loss does not make that athlete loose touch with what’s really important. AO1 also means others’ criticism of athletes will remain in perspective, not taking over the player’s identity. AO1 is meant to promote peace in the athlete. It’s mean to prevent perfectionism or the lack of grace for failure and imperfection from taking hold. AO1 is a marking that requires the athlete to attempt to understand it’s true meaning. Jae_today exerts that true meaning in his TikTok video. Watch him declare it’s all for God’s glory:
@jae_todayFootball Season🙏🏽 All for his Glory ##AO1 ##Christian ##Jesus♬ original sound – Elena
Carson Wentz AO1 Foundation
Since then the Carson Wentz AO1 Foundation has even been set up by quarterback, Carson Wentz with the mission to “demonstrate the love of God by providing opportunities and support for the less fortunate and those in need.” The foundation has three main goals. These goals are reflections of Carson Wentz’s greatest passions, including his love for dogs, his enthusiasm for the outdoors, and most importantly, his faith. To honor his passion for dogs, the foundation provides service dogs to youth in need to help with their quality of life, as well as their development. Carson Wentz’s passion for the outdoors is honored through the foundation by creating opportunities for people with physical challenges to have outdoor experiences, such as hunting.
“[AO1] was a motto I picked up early in my career, and I finally put it on my body as a constant reminder to live with the Lord as my only audience.”
In addition to people with physical challenges, those underserved and military veterans in the Midwest are invited to join in these experiences. A third main service that highlight’s Carson Wentz’s faith is the foundation’s service to underprivileged youth through providing shelter, food, and educational opportunities. The Carson Wentz AO1 Foundation provides both financial support to programs that support these missions, and it works to extend reach by supporting the development of new programs. At the time, he was a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, and several of his teammates joined together to tweet a video at the creation of this AO1 Foundation in 2017.
Want more about the foundation? Watch this:
Carson Wentz once said of the AO1 mission, “What does AO1 mean to us? It means that we are playing for an Audience of One. When the lights go on and all the eyes are fixed on us, our eyes are fixed on Him,” Wentz shared. “Jesus, the creator of the universe. It’s not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle. Living for Him, playing for Him, and giving Him all the glory. Win, lose or draw, I play for an Audience of One. What about you?”
As Carson Wentz has promoted, AO1 isn’t only about how athletes on game day. With the spirit of AO1, athletes have taken all kinds of steps to live in a way that demonstrates the scripture “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” For example, in 2020 men’s track and field champion, Tatenda Dzvokora thought of the needs in his home country, Zimbabwe, and he collected loads of shoes to send to the people in need there. In 2021, Carson Wentz’s team, the Indianapolis Colts raised $10,205 in just one game as part of the ongoing Touchdown Drive to go to people in need. Also, in September of this year, the Carson Wentz AO1 Foundation put on soccer and basketball camps for children in Haiti. At these camps, the kids learned sports skills, as well as received nutritious meals and clean drinking water.
As you can probably tell, AO1 has power. And it’s meant to promote freedom to athletes to do their best, but keep their perspective in check because, ultimately, it is our goal, whether athlete or not, to bring pleasure to Him!