A baskeball hero: Manute Bol
Here's a great article from the Wall Street Journal about recently deceased Manute Bol, a great Christian and so-so professional basketball player. Sudanese-born Bol was best known for being 7-foot-7 and for his humanitarian work in Sudan. Jon Shields writes that sports writers so often misuse the term redemption that we're forgetting what it really means:
Bol's life and death throws into sharp relief the trivialized manner in which sports journalists employ the concept of redemption. In the world of sports media players are redeemed when they overcome some prior "humiliation" by playing well. Redemption then is deeply connected to personal gain and celebrity. It leads to fatter contracts, shoe endorsements, and adoring women.
Yet as Bol reminds us, the Christian understanding of redemption has always involved lowering and humbling oneself. It leads to suffering and even death.
He has a point in saying that sports journalist simply don't know how to handle players' faith, but I don't think it's completely the journalists' fault.
Very few people can describe their faith well, but it's worse with athletes because you have to get through the typical religion/sports storyline: thanking God for a good game, pointing to the sky or crossing oneself. It seems like every athlete has some sort of foundation, often connected to faith, these days too. All of its seems so external, that I, at least, wonder how genuine it is.
Bol is inspirational in his humility and genuineness--hopefully for athletes along with the rest of us.