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ESPN 30 for 30 (with respect, instead of a smirk) takes on faith, virginity and the NBA

ESPN 30 for 30 (with respect, instead of a smirk) takes on faith, virginity and the NBA

Yes, the YouTube photo at the top of this post is not normal GetReligion territory.

However, over the years we have taken more than our share of shots at branches of ESPN for covering stories about religious believers while paying little or no attention to the role that faith has played in their lives and stories. Silence or vague language has usually been the ESPN norm. However, on rare occasions, there has even been a dose of smirk -- or at the least, a digital rolling of the eyes -- added to some stories about faith-driven athletes.

So let's give credit where credit is due. Anyone who appreciates the world of news documentaries knows that the ESPN 30 for 30 team has been at the top of the pyramid for quite some time now when it comes to excellence.

Forget sports, for a minute. I'm talking about quality documentaries -- period. We are talking about films that take on complex, newsworthy subjects that, oh yeah, are linked to sports. I would put the classic "Roll Tide, War Eagle" in the same class with any film that I have seen on issues of race, class, tribal loyalties and the dark side of the human heart.

So this brings me to a recent 30 for 30 short entitled, "A.C. Green: Iron Virgin." That's the YouTube at the top of this post, but click here to go to the ESPN page dedicated to this film.

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ESPN probes Jeremy Lin's 'inner life,' while paying little or no attention to his soul

ESPN probes Jeremy Lin's 'inner life,' while paying little or no attention to his soul

I think it's time for a short break from the Indiana wars, at least for a day. So what do you remember about "Linsanity"?

I am referring, of course, to those crazy weeks in 2012 when an unheralded point guard from Harvard University took over professional basketball, which is the kind of thing that can happen when you start playing out of your mind in Madison Square Garden wearing a Knicks jersey.

Jeremy Lin also received attention here at GetReligion because of the role that his Christian faith played in his life. Two headlines capture the tone  -- Sarah Pulliam Bailey's "Jeremy Lin, the Knick's Tim Tebow?" and a piece that I wrote, looking ahead, called "So, is Jeremy Lin a good fit in New York City?" One quote from the New York Times coverage says it all:

If Lin’s storybook week captured the imagination of New York City and the wider sports world, it hit the community of Christian Asian-Americans like a lightning bolt.

You get the picture. The world is not full of over-achieving evangelical Christians from Harvard who are also Asian-Americans and play point guard in New York City. So what happened? First he was traded to a city where, to be blunt about it, he was not as unusual -- playing for the Houston Rockets. But then he was shipped to one of the darkest black holes in the current NBA universe, the rebuilding with little to build with Los Angeles Lakers.

This brings us to the current ESPN: The Magazine feature on Lin, that ran under the massive double-decker headline: "Isolation Play -- It isn't Kobe's taunts or humiliating viral videos that have made this the toughest year of Jeremy Lin's life. It's the feeling that, as hard as he tries, he just doesn't fit in."

So while examining this young man's dark night of the soul, want to guess which part of the Lin story ESPN all but ignored?

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