Even with the iconic statue of Jesus Christ watching over the Rio Olympics, NBC and mainstream media outlets have chosen to ignore the importance of religion among athletes.
For example, swimmer Michael Phelps, one of the greatest Olympians ever, lost his way until he found God a few years ago.
“I was a train wreck. I was like a time bomb, waiting to go off. I had no self-esteem, no self-worth. There were times where I didn’t want to be here. It was not good. I felt lost,” Phelps said.
After his second DUI, Phelps got a call from former NFL star Ray Lewis, who helped the swimmer onto the road of religious recovery.
Simone Biles, the gymnast who won four gold medals, carries a rosary in her warmup bag and lights a candle in church before an event. Instead of emphasizing her religious beliefs, NBC and others talk about her mother, a former drug addict.
Katie Ledecky, a Catholic like Biles, says a Hail Mary before each swimming event and proudly makes her religious views known. Simone Manuel, the first African-American woman to earn a gold medal in swimming, praised God after winning the 100-meter freestyle. Her reference to God got edited out when NBC put up the video on YouTube.
After Usain Bolt of Jamaica, the fastest man in the world, won his third gold medal in the 100-meter sprint, he fell to his knees to pray. The NBC commentators apparently couldn’t bring themselves to utter the word “prayer.”
Many other examples exist, but NBC and other mainstream media have focused on less significant details of athletes’ lives rather than their trust in God. Fortunately, faith-based news organizations have chronicled what the athletes themselves consider their most important characteristic: their belief in God.
The Christian Post wrote about U.S. athletes and their faith at http://www.christianpost.com/news/10-christian-team-usa-athletes-at-rio-olympics-2016-who-put-god-first-167556/
Eric Metaxas interviewed religion writer Terry Mattingly about God and the Olympics at https://soundcloud.com/the-eric-metaxas-show/terry-mattingly-5
Christopher Harper, a longtime journalist with The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times, teaches media law. Read more at www.mediamashup.org
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