Idol Chatter

Today’s New York Times has a front page story about the widening phenomenon of Faith Night at the ballpark. Always on the lookout for ways to drum up business, minor-league sports teams are hosting religious-themed promotions, hoping to tap into church groups’ power to mobilize the faithful. The faith in question is almost always Christian, with giveaways of Christian tchotchkes, appearances by large foam VeggieTales characters and performances by Christian bands, including acts as big as Audio Adrenaline, who played at an indoor football game in Birmingham, Ala., last month. (Special jerseys with a Bible book and verse replacing each player’s name and number, were deemed not in regulation by the Arena Football League’s minor-league officials, and were not worn during the game itself.) The gambit works. Attendance at Nashville Sounds baseball games gets a 59 percent boost on Faith Nights. Major-league teams, including the Atlanta Braves, have begun sponsoring Faith Nights.

Faith Nights are the invention of Brent High, whose company, Third Coast Sports, puts together the promotions for ballparks. High says he goes out of his way to avoid starkly evangelizing at games and allowing secular fans to enjoy the games as usual (beer, for instance, is still sold). High does note in the Times article, “On Faith Nights, God cares a lot more more what’s happening in the stands than about what happens on the field.” On all other nights, as far we can tell, the Lord is a Yankee fan.

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