Serial J.T. Leroy stalkerazi / Will Leitch crony Warren St. John turns his attention from smearing the former and smooching the latter to the burgeoning “Faith Night” trend in the minor and major leagues. From Friday’s New York Times.
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.
Organizers of the promotions said they were mindful of fans of other faiths. Brent High, the president of Third Coast Sports, said he went out of his way to avoid what he called “ambush evangelism.”
“If we were doing something that was controversial, that would defeat the whole business purpose,” he said. “If we’d had resistance, the teams would run from it.”
How’s this for resistance, Brent? The Round Rock Express are hosting a Faith Night this Sunday against the visiting Omaha Royals. Larry the Tomato (above, right) is on the bill. Loot that I’d otherwise spend on a ticket for this game plus sudsy refreshment will otherwise be saved for this Tuesday’s opening of “The Omen”, starring New York Mets fan Julia Stiles. I encourage all Satanists within driving distance of Williamson County to follow suit.