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Pod people: Beyond baseball

It's baseball playoff season, which makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. I really don't like feeling out of the loop because I read the Internet quite a bit and like to feel "in the know." At the risk of further annoying my esteemed colleagues, I'll admit that baseball comes across my consciousness about 50 seconds per year. I simply prefer watching other professional sports, but I also know and respect that Bobby is following his beloved Rangers right now.

That said, I will read the stories that go above and beyond the usual game story, but few sports reporters seem to know how to execute a religion angle in a compelling way. For instance, the coverage of Josh Hamilton's faith has been gone in waves, it seems. His faith came up yet again when a man fell to his death this summer trying to catch a ball at a game in front of his six-year-old son. His son threw the first pitch at a Rangers' game, where Hamilton met and talked with his mother.

In what appeared to be a short period of time, Hamilton later revealed an interesting conversation. “I asked her if they were believers in Christ,” Hamilton said. “She said they were. I said, ‘Well, we know where your husband is right now and make sure that the little one knows who is daddy was and what he stood for. Make sure he understands that.’” Yes, it's Josh Hamilton, but I was a little surprised that he would get in a conversation about heaven in such a short period of time and that he revealed those specifics.

Many athletes talk about their faith after winning a game or praying before a game, but few reporters seem to look for ways the athletes "show not tell" about their faith. There are also some tough questions journalists could pose to Hamilton, like how God has a plan for everything in the middle of a tragic death.

Even non-baseball fans can connect with these kinds of stories. Religion is one way sports reporters can make their stories resonate with more than just fans of a sport or team.

I talk about this and more (hint: some more about the personal faith of journalists while they cover religion) in GetReligion's most recent podcast. Tell us: What kinds of religion details do you look for in sports stories? Are there questions you think reporters could explore specific to athletes?

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