June 3, 2006

Gaming Sunday


A cultural topic that has been getting increased attention lately is the encroachment of Christian fundamentalism into professional sports.  Recent stories have appeared, for example, in Salon, the NYT, Mother Jones and even The Washington Times.  Although primarily a minor league phenomenon to date, the movement is hitting the big time this summer as several major league baseball teams have put “Faith Night” on the schedule.

There are many dimensions to this story, including: team-supported proselytizing and conversion of players; the exploitation of publicly funded assets, such as stadiums, for religious purposes; the merger of athletics and faith with radical right-wing political activism; the use of religion to deflect serious sport problems, such as substance abuse and domestic violence;  and the intentional alienation of players and fans who don’t subscribe to a straight, fundamentalist message.


These photo show two members of the Birmingham Steeldogs of the Arena Football League.  If not for a last minute decision by the league, these players would have actually worn these jerseys in a recent game.

A few takes on the pics:

God is winning.

Wearing religion on my sleeve.

I can put my religion in your face, but I can’t look you in the eye at the same time.

Is it a higher percentage of black middle to lower class players who have been mentored by Athletes In Action, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Focus on the Family and Campus Crusade for Christ , who are now being used as walking product placements?

It’s like the crusades, only better.  No one gets killed, and you get to enjoy plenty of  brutality guilt-free.

(images: Rainier Ehrhardt;AP.  May 5, 2006.  Birmingham, Alabama.  Via YahooNews)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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