"Scott Hamilton Was Demoted as an Olympic Broadcaster. Don’t Feel Sorry for Him."
That's the headline on a fascinating New York Times sports column on the famous U.S. figure skater and broadcaster.
Why shouldn't we feel sorry for him?
If you really want to know, I'd urge you to click the link and read the full column.
But basically, the idea is that Hamilton has suffered through a series of cancer battles and has his priorities in the right place. That means, as the Times explains, that the loss of his Olympic broadcasting gig hasn't hit him as hard as it might have otherwise.
The Times even hints that a higher power might be involved:
Hamilton said he had prayed about 12 times a day for it to go away. Doctors treated him with radiation, and the tumor did go away.
And later, there's this mention:
The tumor had shrunk, by about half. Hamilton choked up when describing what happened next.
“Have you ever had one shrink without treatment before?” he said he asked the doctor. “And the doctor said, ‘Nope, never.’”
Hamilton asked, “So how can you explain this?”
The doctor said, “God.”
It floored him. He was in the process of losing three friends to colon cancer, yet he, somehow, someway, was given this miracle? At his latest doctor’s visit, in December, the tumor was even smaller.
It's compelling stuff. Really.
But guess what's missing? Any concrete details concerning Hamilton's religious affiliation or beliefs. As happens so often in sports stories, the Times fails to offer even any rudimentary information about Hamilton's faith — such as the fact he is a Christian.
Hamilton discussed his faith journey in a 2009 interview with The Christian Chronicle:
The skater describes a typical church experience growing up, his parents taking him to worship, Sunday school and church choir.
But as his interest in skating grew, his church commitment shrank.
“Pretty soon Sunday morning skating took the place of Sunday school,” Hamilton writes. “My parents, seeing how important skating was to me, let me blow off church.”
Though Hamilton maintained an openness to the spiritual side of life, he says, religion for him turned into the “Church of Scott,” meaning he could skate all he liked but thought primarily about his own wants and accomplishments.
The future gold medalist grew increasingly skeptical of traditional communities of faith. “I never lost my faith in God, but I did lose my faith in organized religion,” he writes.
Hamilton told The Christian Chronicle: “When I was looking for clues, answers, direction, I looked upon organized religion with a … perfectly adolescent opinion. I just felt that denominational religion was divisive, not inclusive. Going to church in an organized fashion … it rubbed me the wrong way.”
The reluctance to commit to church began to change when Hamilton met his future wife, Tracie Robinson, who grew up in Tennessee but was working in California and attending the University Church of Christ in Malibu.
“One day she shows up at church with this guy on her arm, who looks for all the world like Scott Hamilton,” minister Ken Durham recalled.
“We got to be special friends,” Durham said, adding that he and Hamilton began to study the Bible and talk about the meaning of belonging to a community of believers.
The Malibu minister performed the skater’s 2002 wedding. And about a year later —shortly after Hamilton was diagnosed with a brain tumor — Durham baptized Hamilton in the
Pepperdine swim facilities, ironically one of the sites decades back of the Los Angeles summer Olympics.
Back to the Times column: It is, on one level, inspiring and informative, definitely worth a read.
On the other hand — and this is the frustrating part — it is haunted by by a God-sized hole.