February 01, 2002

Christianity in Athleticism: is the topic of an editorial by Rick Morrissey. He addresses the religions of some athletes; how many of the references to their gods in their given statements are edited out of the sports section and why both athletes and editors do so.

posted by moz to culture at 11:03 PM - 10 comments

It is not only the athletes' comments that are edited for content, reporters routinely edit out faux paus (and many lifestyle choices) of political leaders too. It is a way to preserve their status as heroes, leaders and role models. I personally felt a bit uncomfortable at first watching few of Warner's press conferences on ESPNNews. I didn't realize how deep his born-again-ness ran until this Superbowl media blitz. But reading up on him, (and mostly being told by the Times,) I have come to appreciate his religiousness. Times had a good piece on how his religiousness has not created any rifts in the lockerroom.

Warner is also not a hypocrite, players said. In the N.F.L., there have been any number of instances of players who are boasting of religious beliefs but hardly abiding by them in their private lives. "Kurt is the real deal," Herring said. "Everyone knows that."
And seeing his wife, (and not to pass any judgment on her looks,) I'd say that he is a lot better than Eugene Robinson, the other "preacher" to reach the Superbowl. Falcon's Robinson was arrested for solicitation the night before the big game.

posted by tamim at 11:36 PM on February 01, 2002

Shoot, one of my first comments here was a knock on Warner's preaching. By all accounts, Warner is sincere in his beliefs, which is great for him. I just don't need to hear about it. (And I beat the Tribune columnist to the separation of church and football.) I'm glad they edit out the religious comments, because I don't think it's appropriate for athletes (or actors, or politicians, etc.) to use their position to push their religions. I want athletes to be athletic, actors to act, and politicians to go away. Just because they're good at what they do doesn't make them qualified to preach to me. Reggie White's speech at the Wisconsin State Assembly is a good example of how it can be taken too far. There's also something primitive and superstitious about applying religion to sports. If the Rams win tomorrow, does that mean He has forsaken the Patriots? (There was a related but more sacrilegious take on this in a column in today's San Francisco Chronicle.)

posted by kirkaracha at 12:59 AM on February 02, 2002

I'm not religious, but I'm religiously opposed to censorship. This is a freedom of speech issue.

posted by walrus at 01:45 AM on February 02, 2002

I just remembered: here's how religious censorship can work in sports. Glen Hoddle was the manager of the England Football (soccer) team until he foolishly mentioned one of his beliefs to a tabloid journalist. It's generally agreed that the religious comment was used as an excuse to oust him at a time when the team wasn't doing as well as might be hoped.

posted by walrus at 01:52 AM on February 02, 2002

I don't know that its censorship, versus relevance. The way Warner talks you'd think Jesus was on the sidelines and wearing a "Number 1" finger. 90% of what he goes on (and on) about have no relation to the game at hand - unless he sees a vision in the end zone (or Faulk can walk on water - which I wouldn't put past him)

posted by owillis at 02:19 AM on February 02, 2002

I was playing devils advocate a little. There's nothing wrong with cutting irrelevance, of course. The extreme is that we fail to represent people accurately just because they make us feel uncomfortable.

posted by walrus at 02:27 AM on February 02, 2002

I cringe every time I hear an athlete mention Jesus, or thank God for some big win, as if he was on 'their' side. (saturday night live had a hilarious skit about this exact subject a couple of years ago) I don't want to hear athletes preaching about God, satanism, or atheism. I don't care about their political slant nor their view on environmental issues. I just want them to score touchdowns, hit homeruns, and run the fast break. Is that too much to ask? There's a time and a place for everything. Sportsfilter is not the place to discuss world politics, and superbowl week is not the time for Warner to preach to the masses. He's christian, we've got it. Now talk football.

posted by justgary at 02:50 AM on February 02, 2002

The thing that kills me about God-squad athletes is they never blame Him when they lose [self-link]. It isn't censorship for a sportswriter or SportsCenter to ignore comments that aren't germane to what they're covering. Warner still has huge opportunities to air his religious views, and if he wins tomorrow, he'll get to voice them to millions of people after the game, as he did two years ago. If Warner wanted a Sunday morning sports-and-religion show, the St. Louis stations would be falling all over themselves to give it to him.

posted by rcade at 08:20 AM on February 02, 2002

What's the difference? If Kurt Warner's not thanking Jesus what would he say instead "We played a great game today!" "My teammates really stepped up" "We just tried to eliminate distractions" Signal to noise ratio with athlete interviews is so low, I no longer mind if Coach Christ gets his props.

posted by pastepotpete at 02:26 PM on February 03, 2002

More or less related, I'm a huge Knicks fan. Charlie Ward, a bench point guard, made a point to bring Christianity into an interview he gave. He essentially went so far as to alienate an entire community.

posted by BlueTrain at 05:20 PM on February 03, 2002

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