The Daily Progress

Washington Post attempts near-impossible: Profiling Virginia's Tony Bennett without mentioning faith

Washington Post attempts near-impossible: Profiling Virginia's Tony Bennett without mentioning faith

Tony Bennett — the coach, not the singer — is quirky. Mysterious. Someone who believes "it's okay to be different."

That's the basic storyline for an in-depth Washington Post profile of Bennett, whose Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball team enters March Madness as the No. 1 overall seed.

Strangely enough (ghosts, anyone?), the Post manages to write 1,850 words about Bennett without any reference to terms such as "faith," "Christian" and "prayer."

Those familiar with Bennett will understand why that's so remarkable. More on that in a moment.

But first, the Post's haunted opening paragraphs:

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Most everyone had taken shelter by now, but Tony Bennett was walking in the rain. In his mind, some things are worse than a downpour.
Bennett was making his way to work 87 minutes before tip-off against Virginia Tech, a late arrival for most college basketball coaches but early for the Virginia coach, a man who detests idle time. And though a cozy security tent sat a few dozen yards away, a crowd was beneath it on this February afternoon, so Bennett made his way between a wall and a television truck.
Even Bennett’s staff used to find some of his quirks odd, but when you’re the coach of the nation’s No. 1 team and the architect of an ACC powerhouse, it’s all part of the plan.
“Certain things are sacred to me,” Bennett would say a bit later, and among those are efficiency, maximizing potential and — perhaps most precious in a profession filled with self-promoters — his privacy.

Hmmmm. Are those really the only things sacred to Bennett?

Let's keep reading:

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Man, that's a tough question: Why isn't this football coach working on Sundays?

Man, that's a tough question: Why isn't this football coach working on Sundays?

College football Saturdays are back, so let's stop and ponder a journalism mystery linked to the new football coaching regime at the University of Virginia.

The feature at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville is pretty direct, starting with the headline: "Part of the Bronco way is no work on Sunday."

Bronco is not a reference to a mascot, in Wahoo land, but to the school's new head coach -- Bronco Mendenhall. Things are not off to a good start there, so times are a bit tense. Here is the overture:

The day after Virginia’s season-opening loss to Richmond, Ruffin McNeill, the team’s associate head coach and defensive line coach, did what he’s always done. He got up and went to work Sunday morning.
Problem was, when McNeill reached the McCue Center, home of Wahoo football, nobody was there. He went home, came back later, and nobody was there.
Cavaliers coach Bronco Mendenhall told everyone in the program that his philosophy has always been to take Sunday off during the season, and come back refreshed on Monday. McNeill didn’t believe it.
“Coach Ruff went back home and told his wife Erlene, they’re really not there,” Mendenhall chuckled during his weekly press conference on Monday. “He thought the BYU staff was just tricking him.”

So, gentle readers, why does this particular head coach not work on Sundays?

Did you catch that passing reference to "BYU"?

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God, baseball and missionary work: Do people in Serbia really deny the Resurrection?

God, baseball and missionary work: Do people in Serbia really deny the Resurrection?

Every now and then, journalists have rather technical arguments about the meaning of terms such as "truth" and "accuracy."

For example, what if a reporter quotes a person who is involved a complicated, even emotional, debate and people who reject this person's perspective later call the reporter's editor and insist that this information was untrue and should not have been included in the printed story?

Reporters often respond by saying something like this: "I was covering a very bitter debate. I could not prove that what this expert said is accurate, but my quotes were accurate. It is accurate to state that he said this and his claims are part of the story. Want to hear my recording of the interview?"

Arguments are like that. There are times when people with quite a bit of education, training, skill and personal experience disagree with one another about basic facts.

This brings me to a story that ran recently in The Claremore Daily Progress in Oklahoma -- one that talks about God, baseball and mission work. Here's how it starts:

Spreading the love of baseball and the love of Christianity seems like a perfect fit for Claremore High School Athletic Director Brent Payne.
The longtime baseball coach who hung up his cleats after the 2015 baseball season, is once again joining a local missionary group and heading to Serbia to teach the word of God, and also how to turn a double play. ...
Serbia, a country sandwiched between Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, has a population of just over 7 million.
Baseball, as would be expected, is not the country’s national pastime.

No problem, so far. However, an Orthodox reader out in the wilds of Oklahoma (such people do exist) had a spew-your-drink-of-choice moment when he hit this statement in the original version of the story that appeared in print, and on the newspaper's website.

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