Tuesday, August 22, 2006
The Atlanta Braves & "Faith Days"
Professional sports want to fill the seats of their stadiums and arenas. Thus a new marriage of marketing and faith has recently taken place with the Atlanta Braves organization.
It’s not unusual for professional sports teams to have Christian athletes and several of them use their celebrity to share their faith in Jesus Christ. Is that wrong?
On July 27 the “share the faith” factor took a twist when the Braves used the Christian faith of their athletes to sell tickets and draw a crowd by having ‘Faith Day’. Lest you think it was like a Billy Graham Crusade with Bibles in the seats, it was a Major League Baseball game that featured a post-game event with players sharing their Christian testimony and Christian bands playing music. In other words, you had to make a choice to stay after the game to experience the faith part of the day.
The idea began with the minor league baseball team, the Nashville Sounds. Their ‘Faith Days’ sometimes doubled and tripled the size of their crowds. The Braves thought it was worth trying at the major league level.
This led sportswriter Dave Zirin to comment that Faith Days “mark a tremendous step backward for the sport because baseball has always been the great Americanizer for people of all nationalities. Religion belongs in Major League baseball as much as fish belong on bicycles.”
Come on Dave, you’ve got to be kidding. I’ve been to professional games that touted “single’s night” which featured a dance and party for all the singles that wanted to stay after the game and enjoy the festivities. There have been other targeted groups to have special emphases as well. No one is forced to experience any of these marketing events. You have to choose to stay.
In my opinion there is an increased sensitivity about faith (especially Christianity) in the public arena. The contention is that religion is private and ought to remain private. Historically this has never been true. Faiths of all types have always been expressed and experienced publicly. It seems to me we need to relax about such things.