THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn
As World Cup fever raged across the globe – and even here! – new research from Barna showed most Americans recognize their country’s fascination with sports, and almost two-in-three think the culture cares too much about athletics.
The nationwide survey conducted in February found 89% of adults strongly or somewhat agree that sports are an important part of American culture, with men slightly more likely to strongly agree than women. Interestingly, practicing Christians (55%) were the most likely group to strongly agree.
Barna also found 27% of Americans believe the culture cares too much about sports, and 39% agree somewhat. A majority of Americans also agree strongly or somewhat that professional athletes make too much money (86%), and that American professional sports are very corrupt and distract from important global issues (both 62%).
As for America’s favorite sport: Football reigns supreme with regular viewers (53%), followed by basketball and baseball (both 33%). Soccer’s numbers were higher than you might think, especially considering the survey was completed before the World Cup. 11% of Americans regularly watch the beautiful game (that’s what they call soccer), 20% have played it, and 16% say their kids play.
Zamperini remembered as Olympian, war hero, Christian
Former Olympic runner and prisoner of war Louis Zamperini died July 2 at the age of 97. Zamperini, the subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 book “Unbroken,” also was a Christian. His conversion happened at a Billy Graham Crusade after he returned from a Japanese POW camp, at the height of his bitterness and rage over two years of captivity. Read Denny Burk’s tribute to Zamperini.
Some Nigerian girls escape, more than 200 remain captive
While many Americans were celebrating independence, dozens of women and girls in Nigeria were finding freedom from a much more immediate threat. The Christian Post reports more than 60 women and girls kidnapped by Boko Haram on June 22 escaped around July 4. More than 200 girls reportedly are still held by the terrorist group founded to fight the influence of Western education. In a video message released earlier this year, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau threatened to sell the kidnapped girls.
Book release: Piper’s ‘Pastor’s Kid’
Barnabas Piper’s new book “The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity,” was written for PKs, pastors and churches, the son of famed pastor John Piper wrote in the introduction. Coinciding with the book’s July 1 release, the author answered questions from culture writer Jonathan Merritt in this Q&A for Religion News Service, including the biggest negative effect of his upbringing (“not connecting with God in a personal way”). Piper also shared a few surprising facts about his dad, like his love for the comedy “What About Bob.”
Four Southern Baptists named to ’33 under 33’ list
Christianity Today’s list of influential young leaders includes four Baptists, Baptist Press reported July 1. They are:
- Trevin Wax, a blogger and managing editor of LifeWay’s The Gospel Project
- Hip-hop artist turned pastoral intern Trip Lee
- Former rapper D.A. Horton, who is now the North American Mission Board’s national coordinator for urban student missions
- Saira Blair, a 17-year-old candidate for West Virginia’s state legislature