Special thanks to Steve Hummer, Sunday sports feature writer at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, for guest-blogging this post for us. Following the UGA sports blog’s May 25 post and our May 31 post, Steve joined University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt and his wife, Katharyn, in Honduras to witness World Vision’s work there.
World Vision? What’s that? An optician with delusions of grandeur? A new psychic helpline? A few months ago, I had no idea.
Then there came a curious off-season story from the most watched sports beat here at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: University of Georgia football. Bulldogs fans were all atwitter over a report that head coach Mark Richt had put his vacation lake home up for sale. That prompted wide speculation that after two disappointing seasons he was selling off as a hedge against the possibility of being fired this year.
Not so, the coach was moved to respond after reading a book, he said. The title was “The Hole in Our Gospel.” The author, Richard Stearns, was the head of a large international charity called World Vision. Stearns’ book challenges readers to reassess their blessings and level of giving. And selling a cherished getaway was a way for Richt to do just that, significantly upping his Christian commitment to the global neighborhood.
My introduction to World Vision was made complete last month when I was invited along to cover a four-day visit to Honduras by Richt and his wife, Katharyn.
Seeing the coach in an atmosphere far away from the raucous playing fields of the Southeastern Conference was enlightening. Here was a chance to get a reading on the depth of his spirituality, a topic which, honestly, newspaper folk try to avoid like a dangling participle.
Through daily online reports about the trip — with photos of the people and conditions we encountered along the way — readers were able to share the very bumpy ride. A long story the Sunday following our return — still available through an archive search at AJC.com — wrapped up the experience.
Back home, fans, whose concerns center on beating Florida and challenging for the SEC East, had their world view broadened just a little bit. Some did not appreciate it — entering into a debate that Richt should focus more of his energies on fixing his football team. Still, the majority opinion held that, no, being a good citizen of the world and being a winning coach don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
These fans likely will be hearing more about Honduras, as the Richts try to rally them to join in their efforts there. Specifically, they will hear more about a village that visibly moved the couple — San Antonio — a place where a clean water source could better hundreds of lives.
Generally in the business of writing sports, it’s not too difficult to be the kind of dispassionate observer that this job requires. When I go to baseball games, I’m not moved to adopt the shortstop.
That’s a little tougher when covering a story like this.
Just a couple months ago I didn’t know World Vision from a rutabaga. A week ago, I met an impressive 11-year-old Honduran boy who talked for 20 minutes about community development, and the impact World Vision had on his community. He wants to change the world. I’m signing up to be his sponsor.
Read more of Steve’s posts about his trip with Coach Richt on the UGA sports blog.