CBS slow on the prayer uptake

Cedric KillingsKudos to the Associated Press for highlighting one of the most significant issues in the Indianapolis Colts-Houston Texans game Sunday afternoon.

On a Colts kickoff, Texans defensive tackle Cedric Killings went down in a somewhat freakish injury that left him motionless on the field. The CBS announcers, filling the time gap, commented on their hopes for Killings’ recovery and on the number of Texans players holding hands. They didn’t mention that the players were on their knees, in circles, holding hands with their heads bowed.

Apparently all the announcers saw at first was a bunch of players holding hands, because it wasn’t until the very end that they mentioned that the players were likely praying for the recovery and health of Killings.

The AP comes right out and says what everyone else saw during this scary moment:

In a scene eerily reminiscent of the one played out in Buffalo two weeks earlier, the Colts and Houston found themselves unified in prayer as Texans defensive tackle Cedric Killings left the field strapped to a stretcher before resuming the game. …

As part of the Texans’ “wedge” unit, the 310-pound Killings ran up the field at full speed, going head first to open a hole. Rookie receiver Roy Hall met him at about the Texans’ 15, turning his left shoulder slightly in an effort to break through and make the tackle as players are taught. Both dropped instantly to the ground, and while Hall eventually walked away, Killings did not. …

It appears Killings and Hall will, fortunately, be all right.

Killings spent Sunday night in a Houston hospital with a neck injury and had feeling in his arms and legs. Hall walked briefly into the Colts locker room Monday wearing a bulky harness over his left shoulder, and Dungy said he expected Hall back within a few weeks.

The good news is that Killings has been able to stand in the hospital. For more good reporting, here’s the Houston Chronicle‘s Richard Justice.

At the beginning of football season I commented on Christianity Today‘s cover story on faith and football. The article pointed out the NFL’s attempt to discourage post-game prayer huddles that mixed players from both teams and Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly’s silly fuss over the huddles being offensive.

The CBS commentators’ reluctance to talk about what was happening on the field indicates the gulf that separates some of the journalists and commentators who cover this league and the players who throw their bodies out there every weekend. The religion angle in football cannot be ignored, especially in moments like we saw Sunday afternoon in Houston and in moments that unfortunately we’re going to see again and again.

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  • http://www.lutheranzephyr.com Chris Duckworth

    You wrote:

    The CBS commentators’ reluctance to talk about what was happening on the field indicates the gulf that separates some of the journalists and commentators who cover this league and the players who throw their bodies out there every weekend. The religion angle in football cannot be ignored, especially in moments like we saw Sunday afternoon in Houston and in moments that unfortunately we’re going to see again and again.

    I would edit this statement slightly by inserting the qualifier some not only in relation to the journalists, as you did, but also in relation the players. You rightly identify that not all the journalists are clueless about the religious faith of football players (hence your use of the italicized some). But surely not all the football players are religious, either.

    Some of the football players are religious, some are not. Some of the journalists get religion, some do not. Let’s not make a black-and-white situation out of one that is actually pretty grey.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    It isn’t grey that the commentators did not adequately- or completely at first- report on all the events happening on the field. That this might have been caused by the commentators being members of a professional culture noted for its lack of religious interest or participation is certainly a question which should be raised.

  • http://religion.beloblog.com/ Jeffrey Weiss

    Um. Should football commentators be expected to talk about religion? No kidding — their job is to talk about the game and such color that links to the game.

    Yes, that increasingly includes personal stuff these days. And I won’t argue that the prayer circles in this particular incident deserved mention. But to suggest that the religion of the players is a per se regular topic for conversation on sportscasts? That’s a sidebar topic — like many other topics that are sidebar topics.

    I am reminded of the Knute Rochne quote: “I’ve found that prayers work best when you have big players.”

  • Chris Bolinger

    Jeffrey, football commentators are expected to tell us what is happening on the football field in plain language, especially when the cameras are not showing it. The recent refusals to show players praying in groups on the field — with the exception of praying before the Virginia Tech home opener, which was deemed acceptable to show because it could be “interpreted” for us simpletons by the announcers — and the euphemistic description of what happened in the Colts-Texans game indicate a deliberate attempt to shield viewers from what is happening.

    For some odd reason, this reminds me of the creative ways that announcers have described male athletes getting nailed in the, um, groin. My favorite has always been, “He got the wind knocked out of him.”

  • Thom Box

    What I’d like to know is this. If those players that posess an active faith make their prayers obvious by kneeling and/or holding hands, or joining with opposing players on the field after a game doing the same, does that mean God hears their prayers because they make an obvious show of it and not mine because I don’t? Surely every prayer that went up that day including mine while watching on the internet in England was heard, not just the ones from those shouting “I’m a Christian” with their body language. As far as I’m concerned there is a place to make an obvious show of your religious persuasion and it is your place of worship, whether that be at home or in a church, synagogue, mosque or whatever. For members of those faiths that believe in Jesus here’s something he had written in his book. He never intended for us to call attention to ourselves in the manner that sports men and women do these days. I think he actually mentioned in a very derisive way people who stand on the street corner praying and revelling in the attention it brings. Now I’m sure that most of the players that were praying on Sunday were very sincere. It’s just that when you do it publicly you always draw a certain kind of attention from those that don’t do it at all. It just irks me that bowing your head in public has become some sort of badge to be worn earmarking you as one of the chosen few. It’s a shame our culture has come to the point where we are convinced that our so called rights as Christians have been trod on because a broadcaster didn’t announce to the world that these pious warriors were showing their faith on the field of play by visibly praying for their fallen comrade. The whole world saw it for crying out loud. Notwithstanding however, I believe you should do your praying in a place where you can shut the rest of the world out while you commune with the Almighty. Too many other unsavory things enter into it when it is done in public.


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