by Quin Hillyer
Sometimes a writer doesn't know what to write about. For understandable reasons right now, everybody else in my business seems to be writing about politics - for instance, about how vice presidential choice Paul Ryan
is a bow-hunter, how he draws on bipartisan ideas to reform and save Medicare, and how he will
or will not
attract, or scare off, the votes of senior citizens. But there's more to life than politics, even when a new and fascinating/controversial figure like Ryan, with his traditional values combined with policy boldness, enters the national spotlight.
In that spirit, let's leave politics behind this week in favor of the really important world event that just concluded: the Olympics!
Of course almost all of us marveled at the phenomenal athleticism, dedication, and work ethic of the Olympic contestants, and also celebrated the superb performances overall of American athletes (and admired that of the host-country Brits, who won more medals per capita than anybody). In addition, though, observers had reason to be struck by one other trend that was either ignored by, or criticized by, the establishment media.
Think back to the immediate post-race interviews of so many winning American athletes, especially on the track and in the pool. From some of the teenage white swimmers to many of the late-20s black runners, the same expression was one of the first that crossed their lips. Again and again, one of the very first things these accomplished, preternaturally talented competitors said was that they were grateful to God for giving them the opportunity. In the midst of their joy, they gave praise to their Lord. In the midst of triumph, they deflected at least some of the glory. And they did so not as an afterthought, but as their first expression.
"It's pretty cool," said runner Allyson Felix
, who won three golds. "You know, God has been so good to me. I couldn't do anything without him."
"First of all, God is so good, like beyond good," said Kellie Wells
in her first words after winning bronze in the 100 hurdles. And, at the end of the brief interview, her last words: "Thank God."
And so on it went in interview after interview - all of it from the heart, obviously unfeigned and unscripted. But the establishment media doesn't get it. Largely uncomfortable with faith, and sometimes downright hostile to it, the reporters either try to rush past the religious encomiums or else, in some obnoxious cases, take the time to belittle the expressions of faith. (More on that in a moment.) What they clearly don't understand is that, in most cases, these athletes are not trying to say that God chose them to defeat their competitors. They aren't claiming God's special favor. Instead, the athletes are thanking God for the role he plays in their lives - the love he provides, the peace he creates in their souls, and the abounding grace that gives them the strength needed to overcome hardships and setbacks. The media, not understanding faith at all and arrogantly considering all devotion to be simplistic, cannot comprehend the idea that religious expression contains any subtleties.
The most infamous of these snarling media accounts came, naturally, from a writer for the nastily leftist New York Times. In a horrible column
, writer Jere Longman made fun of hurdler Lolo Jones (and tacitly accused her of hypocrisy) as "vixen, virgin, victim" as part of a "sad and cynical marketing campaign." Even worse, TMZ did an entire segment
mocking Jones' professed virginity as "not a stereotype that you want to lend yourself to" and, viciously, as "gremlin psychology." And Slate's Emily Shire blasted
the "mythical cult of virginity" and also criticized Jones for her goal of "pleasing a man rather than herself." They just can't stand the thought of a devout Christian (gasp!) trying to live up to her professed values.
(For the record, by the way, Jones' "nude" pose for ESPN the Magazine - actually less revealing than most bikinis - was hardly a sexual, cheesecake shot. It was one of numerous photos of many dozens of athletes in the publication's annual "body issue," stressing not her sexuality but, literally, her musculature and the hard work it took to get into such good shape - in what "Sports by Brooks" called "a tasteful picture that would send young girls the message they don't have to be skinny or starve themselves. The 5 foot 9 inch Jones says she weighs 160 pounds.")
All of which brings to mind the early 1990s feature story in a major American news-weekly bearing a subhead called "The Surprising Unsecularity of the American Public." Note that for the establishment media, "secularity" is considered normal and the manufactured word "unsecularity" is portrayed as almost freakish.
The real question, of course, is how somebody could be so alien to his own culture as to find the faithfulness of the overwhelming majority of Americans to be "surprising."
Anyway, even if the media keeps getting it wrong, many of our great athletes still get it right. Bless them. And praise God for the faith He inspires in them.