Hello, all of you sports fanatics out there in GetReligion reader land!
I realize there may only be a dozen or so of you, based on the digital silence that has followed most GetReligion posts about sports-news topics. However, I (along with Bobby Ross, Jr., the Texas Rangers acolyte) have bravely soldiered on and written quite a few posts about the God-shaped holes found in the coverage at most mainstream sports-news outlets (hello, ESPN).
So here I go again, with a follow-up post to the recent NBA championship run by the Golden State Warriors. I want readers to answer a simple question about news coverage (one that will take us into territory linked to the never-ending saga of Steph Curry and his sneakers).
The question: Which of the following two news topics do you think will receive the most post-championship coverage?
(a) Debates about whether these Warriors from the deep-blue Bay Area will visit Donald Trump's White House.
(b) New evidence of faith ties -- a Bible study group to be precise -- that bind among some of the key players at the heart of this pro-hoops juggernaut.
If you are not following the White House story, here is a sample of the verbiage there, care of Rolling Stone:
Fresh off winning their second NBA Championship in the last three seasons, the talk about the Golden State Warriors quickly turned to whether or not the team would visit President Donald Trump at the White House. Within hours of defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5, CNBC's Josh Brown tweeted, "NBA champion Warriors skipping the White House visit, as a unanimous team decision per reports." Brown later said on Twitter, "I have no idea if its true, hence 'per reports.'" The tweets were later deleted, but the news spread and the team issued a statement clarifying their current position. ...
Several Warriors including Stephen Curry, David West, Shaun Livingston and coach Steve Kerr, have been outspoken regarding President Trump and his rhetoric.
"Are we promoting change?" Curry asked in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News last February. "Are we doing things that are going to look out for everybody? And not being so self-serving that it's only about making money, selling shoes, doing this and that. That's not the priority. It's about changing lives. I think we can continue to do that."
If you prefer the New York Times take on the same story, click here. There isn't much difference in the two.
This is, obviously, a valid story and -- with its roots in politics and arguments about DONALD TRUMP (!!!) it is sure to draw lots of coverage, no matter what happens.
Now, what about that other story, the one about the Bible study group?
It's hard to know much about this story, since the only real coverage has been in -- you got it -- alternative "Christian" media.
At the center of the story is an interview (video link here) with Curry by the Christian Broadcasting Network, featured on The 700 Club. This has led to your typical quickie-aggregation items on several websites. Note that this interview aired on June 9 -- during the NBA finals -- so the timing was right for coverage.
This item at the Black Christian News Network One site is typical:
Steph Curry says he and his Golden State Warriors teammates have formed a discipleship group and study the Bible daily. ...
“We have a group chat. We call it the discipleship group where we share Bible verses every single day and kind of do a Bible study through text message. Every game day we probably have 10, 11 guys show up for the 30-minute Bible study, prayer service, daily encouragement -- that’s the biggest thing,” Curry said. “You can get lost in the daily routines and the hype of what we do on the floor and forget why we’re here.”
You can find similar "stories" at other sites, such as ChurchPop.com and at The Christian Post. The key is that we are talking about mere aggregation of most of the same information, over and over, with little new reporting.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking: Why is this news? Hasn't the Curry-is-a-Christian story been covered to death?
Well, that depends. What caught my eye was Curry's statement that 10 or 11 "guys" show up for this discipleship group. It's safe to assume that this includes a few trainers and others on the team's staff.
But who else is in that number? This could be linked, methinks, to an earlier story on which mainstream journalists punted (click here for earlier GetReligion coverage), back at the time of the earth-shaking announcement by megastar Kevin Durant that he was leaving Bible Belt Oklahoma City and going to Golden State.
You see, there was an interesting news hook at the heart of Golden State's pitch to Durant. This subject was briefly mentioned in some mainstream coverage, including a passage or two in a USA Today report that ran with this headline: "How the Warriors got Kevin Durant." Here's a flashback:
The Warriors had been hearing that Durant had eyes for their franchise for a while. ... Part of it was relationship-based, with Durant growing close with Warriors players in recent years -- none more so than Curry and super sixth man Andre Iguodala during the FIBA World Championships in 2010.
Then there was the pitch itself:
... The second hour of the meeting was key, as Curry, Thompson, Green, and Iguodala had a players-only meeting of their own that also appears to have played a pivotal part. ... Curry, Iguodala and Durant all bonded during chapel sessions that summer. Iguodala’s words appears to have left a mark.
It was like they were already sharing a locker room at Oracle Arena.
Chapel sessions? Maybe they were, and are, continuing to share something else as teammates?
Let's wrap this up. You see, both of these topics are valid and deserve coverage. However, it's interesting to note -- in light of all the attention given to the unique bonds of fun and friendship at the heart of this super-team -- the degree to which political convictions appear to be much, much, much more worthy of elite news coverage than those of a spiritual nature.
So, will CBN and Christian media cover the team's White House debates?
Will the New York Times, Rolling Stone, ESPN, et al, cover the unique ties that bind in those game-day Bible studies?
Yeah, right. Just asking.