A Separation Of Church And Sport?


Tom Krattenmaker calls televised sports "one of the most outwardly religious sectors of American culture":

Players point skyward to the Almighty after reaching the end zone or home plate, star athletes voice thanks and praise to their savior after a big win, and sports heroes use their media spotlight to promote the Christian message. (See University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and his eye-black, touting Scripture.) [...] Far less visible, but worth knowing about, are the infrastructure and strategy of the sports-world evangelicalism that powers these pious displays. Athletes' expressions of Christian faith reflect decades of hard work by evangelical ministries to convert players and "coach" them to use their stature to promote a particular version of conservative Christianity. Christian chaplains are embedded with all the teams in professional baseball, basketball and football and many college teams as well to provide religious counseling, Bible studies and chapel services.

[...S]hould we be pleased that the civic resource known as "our team" a resource supported by the diverse whole through our ticket-buying, game-watching and tax-paying is being leveraged by a one-truth evangelical campaign that has little appreciation for the beliefs of the rest of us?

Sam Cook says we shouldn't be pleased:

Religion - except for the "Hail Mary" pass - has no place in sports. In Tebow's case, he should play football and forget about us sinners for 3 1/2 hours every Saturday. Somehow, we'll survive without him displaying a "John 3:16" Bible verse under his eyes. We separate church and state. Why not church and sports? Would it fly with the NCAA or TV networks if a player exhibited "God is dead" on his face? Freedom of expression would be wiped away as quickly as the greasepaint.

Oh, please. Lighten up. This is America. And I'd much rather sports be publicly religious than politics. FYI, Isaiah 40:31 reads:

But they that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

(Photo source: Orlando Sentinel)