DG_ThenNowForever Posted June 2, 2006 Share Posted June 2, 2006 Sports and Salvation on Faith Night at the StadiumIt has long been noted that in certain parts of the United States, a fine line separates sports from religion. But at a minor league indoor football game last month in Birmingham, Ala., fans may have witnessed as transparent an attempt to merge football and church as had ever been tried. Before kickoff, a Christian band called Audio Adrenaline entertained the crowd. Promoters gave away thousands of Bibles and bobblehead dolls depicting biblical characters like Daniel, Noah and Moses. And when the home team, the Birmingham Steeldogs, took the field, they wore specially made jerseys with the book and number of bible verses printed on the back.Donnie Rhodes, a children's minister at Gardendale's First Baptist Church near Birmingham, took 47 sixth graders to the game by bus and said it was the perfect outing. "It was affordable, safe and spiritual," he said. "And the kids just thought it was the coolest thing."Mr. Rhodes and his students were at the latest in ballpark promotions: Faith Nights, a spiritual twist on Frisbee Nights and Bat Days. While religious-themed sports promotions were once largely a Bible Belt phenomenon that entailed little more than ticket discounts for church and synagogue groups, Faith Nights feature bands, giveaways and revival-style testimonials from players. They have migrated from the Deep South to northern stadiums from Spokane, Wash., to Bridgewater, N.J. Third Coast Sports, a company in Nashville that says it specializes in church marketing and event planning for sports teams, has scheduled 70 this year in 44 cities, and many teams produce Faith Nights on their own.They are about to become even bigger. This summer, the religious promotions will hit Major League Baseball. The Atlanta Braves are planning three Faith Days this season, the Arizona Diamondbacks one. The Florida Marlins have tentatively scheduled a Faith Night for September.The religious promotions are spreading because they offer something for fans and for teams. Churches get discounted tickets to family-friendly evenings of music and sports with a Christian theme. And in return, they mobilize their vast infrastructure of e-mail and phone lists, youth programs and chaperones, and of course their bus fleets, to help fill the stands. "Religion is a very big component of people's lives around here, and churches are very well organized," said Derek Schiller, a senior vice president for sales and marketing for the Braves, whose first Faith Day is scheduled for July 27. "If they decide they're going to have an outing and it's going to be an Atlanta Braves baseball game, rest assured there will be a big participation." There's more at the link. My thoughts? The Braves should have thought about Faith Playoff Days a long time ago. Maybe then people would have showed up. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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