Generic ‘God talk’ or something more?

YouTube Preview ImageWell here’s a pretty good example of what appears to be the failure to get religion details into a story. Here’s the top of the story from Yahoo! sports:

Concordia College Alabama coach Don Lee can’t help but think someone was watching over his team Saturday when the second of two buses headed for their game against Miles College blew up in front of them.

Lee, who is also the athletic director of the small school in Selma, Ala., was on the first bus when his phone and the phones of others on his bus started ringing. He looked behind him and saw his second bus wasn’t there. The driver of the second bus said they had blown a tire and, as they tried to pull off the road safely, blew another tire, which started a fire in the back of the bus.

“We had about 56 or 57 people on that bus,” Lee told Yahoo Sports. “When we didn’t see it, we got to a stop sign and turned around. We got to the bus and pulled everyone off. About 5 or 10 minutes after that, after we had gotten everyone to safety, the bus blew up. I mean blew up. We were just so blessed that we got everyone out safely.”

OK. So the coach thinks “someone” was watching over the team. He says they were “just so blessed” that everyone got out safely.

As the reader who submitted this piece noted:

The author writes the coach “can’t help but think someone was watching over his team” and and later cites a quote mentioning the team was “blessed.” Generic ‘god talk’? Or perhaps it might have to do with the fact the team is from a Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod college?

Even if I weren’t a member of this church body, I’d want to see the affiliation of the school in a story of this nature. This is perhaps one of the most pervasive problems in mainstream media today — failure to just identify the religious affiliation of a given individual or group. Remember, journalists, that religion may not be important to you does not mean it’s not important to readers. Or heck, it’s not even about religious affiliation so much as just basic details about a story. When I read about a college in another part of the country, I like to know if it’s public or private and, if private, what affiliation it has. It’s why I read the news. To learn more about other places and events.

Anyway, the point is that even if the coach weren’t referencing religion in his quotes, it would still be important information. But it’s even more glaring when the quotes clearly indicate a religious posture on the part of the coach or school.

The story itself is good — explaining that the kids on this bus have no other equipment and that they have the rest of the season to complete.

  • helen

    Re the many comments on Yahoo: I’m glad they all got out safely! But as far as a state school helping out a religious institution… in your dreams!

    • Dale

      The Yahoo Sports article mentions that a public high school (Jeff Davis High) is loaning Concordia College some uniforms, since the two schools use the same color. An AP story mentions an additional public high school has offered shoulder pads.

      Incidentally, the AP story did not identify the religious affiliation of Concordia College, nor did the Selma Times-Journal article on which the AP story was based.

  • helen

    Update: Concordia, Selma, AL, is outfitted with new football uniforms and gear, by Adidas.

    • Dale

      Yes, it seems the college is getting help from all over the country!


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