I love an inspiring story as much as the next guy.
What I don't love so much: a generic inspiring story that trips all over itself ignoring the obvious religion angle.
Yes, I'm talking about you, ESPN.
Holy ghosts seem to afflict the global sports giant quite frequently — so much so that I sometimes wonder if the network has a policy (official or unofficial) against mentioning potentially offensive words.
You know, words like faith, Jesus and Christian.
The latest ESPN example comes to us courtesy of GetReligion reader David Yoder:
The story concerns a group of NC State football players using their spring work to do mission work in Kenya:
NC State punter A.J. Cole III started going to Kenya over spring break as a senior in high school. Once he got to college, he needed his best sales pitch to convince teammates to come along with him.
So he called a meeting on campus and promised those interested that they would embark on a life-changing experience. It would not be an easy one. For starters, they would each have to raise $3,000 to fund the trip. They would have to make sure they had a full range of up-to-date shots (not to mention a passport and other travel documents).
They would have to take two seven-hour airplane rides to Nairobi. Then they would have to board a Jeep-style safari truck and head four hours northwest to Nakuru. Once there, they would be staying in bunk beds on the campus of Mountain Park Academy, a boarding school for Kenyan children. Modern amenities would be in scarce supply.
They would spend five days with the teachers and children, doing mission work while also uplifting, encouraging and teaching the children either in the classroom or through sports. Cole got three teammates to join him last spring.
The term "mission work" is the first clue — at least to me — that there might be a religious component to this trip. But ESPN avoids any mention of religion.
Check out the Mountain Park Academy's website, and the Kenyan school's faith-based mission — including a call "to provide basic education in a Christian environment for those children" — is made clear.
19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
Scroll down the player's recent tweets, and he leaves no doubt as to the Christian nature of his mission work in Kenya:
One more bit of evidence: Reader Yoder found the above video, which notes that Cole's 2015 trip was with a Fellowship of Christian Athletes group:
Talk about a haunted piece of journalism.
Please don't misunderstand me: I think it's great that ESPN decided to report on a "life-changing experience" that made a "profound impact" and "inspired (one of Cole's teammates) so much."
I just wish ESPN would go ahead and tell the rest of the story — the one that involves those unmentioned words above.
Seriously, why is ESPN — seemingly — so afraid of religion?