Saturday, August 27, 2005

Scoring Home Runs for the Lord

Do sport and religion mix? Could linking the two mean an increase in observance by those attending events in Ireland. Well in the USA baseball teams are hosting Faith Nights in an attempt to reach out to new audiences. USA Today reported last month that

The dozens of Faith Nights at ballparks this summer are the
latest manifestation of Christianity's increasing involvement in sports. Players pray in the locker room and on the field. They praise God in interviews. And they organize groups including Athletes In Action and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

And according to a report on World News Tonight on ABC this evening, these nights are catching on with attendances at Friday night games doubling.
The faith components of the evening are understated but they
are there.
Faith Nights are planned to be as unobtrusive as possible to avoid alienating fans that prefer sports religion-free. Most of the pre-game events happen in the parking lot or in an area away the field. The program is plotted so a fan could attend a game and never know a promotion going on.

"They don't shut down beer sales for Faith Night," Snider say .
"We might set up an event in a picnic area where you would have to purposefully walk over to get to."

Could we ever see this happening here? Imagine Roy Keane leading the Republic of Ireland team in the Rosary before the game against France? Or Brian O’Driscoll inspiring the faithful at Lansdowne Road with Ag Críost an Síol? Jason Sherlock giving testimony on how Jesus told him to choose GAA over Soccer?

It might sound hilarious but already GAA players and other sporting stars are being targeted to wear the yellow Be Not Afraid wristband inspired by Daniel Philbin Bowman and launched by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. The wristband honours JP2 and is aimed at young people of all religious faiths and none but it is being marketed through churches and schools. Sport and religion are linked in this country in other ways eg. the local PP giving thanks for the parishes team getting through to the country final, blessings of golf courses and the like.

Look closely at the mentors of a hurling team and you’ll easily find a priest, and while there are few other signs of religion or organised religious services at sporting events at the moment – at major sporting occasions this idea could catch on. One day we might have to stomach more than Irelands Call when going to watch our team.


At 00:04, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suzy, I am delighted that you have mentioned that the wristband is for all faiths or non faiths. The message be not afraid is so powerful and so life changing that it would be unfortunate for it not to reach everyone. Also I would love to think it was inspired by me but unfortunatley I cannot-lol. Credit would have to go to JPII on that as it was his courage which riled me into getting the idea and doing something about it. As for Keano and the rosary that may be a long time in coming but as you said we managed to get a whole host of sports stars supporting our cause. I think the key is that while it is heavily associated with religion it is not exclusive to certain beliefs and it is more the actual message (and its inspiration-jp2) and the charities involved which this project is about. Hope you have one yourself, all the best


At 00:25, Blogger Suzy said...

Hi Daniel,

I must have been taking my sarcasm light tablets rather than my sarcasm heavy ones when I wrote the post. I am actually firmly against the involvement of religion and sports. Religion has been a very destructive influence in many sports - eg. the GAA and the no Foreign (Protestant) sports or RUC rules, Rangers and Celtic divisions etc. I don't want to see Keano saying the rosary or any other religious display at a sporting event.

What concerns me about the wristbands and the promotion of JP2 is that he hurt a lot of people and I would love if the people he hurt could also learn to be not afraid of him and those who wear his wristband. I would like to think that you and your organisations (including the charities funded by wristband sales) would also promote tolerance and understanding - particularly of a group I have worked with - young lesbians, gaymen, bisexuals and transgendered people. JP2 called us intrinsically evil and morally disordered. Through his teachings, statements and policies he has contributed to the suicides, homelessness, addictions, hate crimes committed against us and the poverty of this group - all by promoting discrimination and intolerance. The wearing of the wristband by public figures has continued to replicate this discrimination for me.

If you know what the policy of the Turning The Tide on Suicide group funded by the wristband is on sexual orientation and suicide I would appreciate it if you would leave a comment here or email me.




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