by Forechecker on 11/01/08 at 03:16 PM ET
Tonight the Nashville Predators welcome the Florida Panthers (and former star goaltender Tomas Vokoun) to town before heading out on a long road trip, and the Preds are engaging in a promotion tonight which, while largely successful in minor league baseball, has been only sparingly used in major league sports: Fellowship Night, an invitation to Nashville’s large and active Christian population to come out and support the home team.
Many major league sports teams shy away from overtly reaching out to the religious community, fearing the risk of offending groups that may feel excluded, or offending the included groups by tying religion to big-time athletics. Murray Chass of the New York Times looked into this issue a few months ago, in the context of Faith Nights being implemented in some Major League Baseball cities. In can be extremely touchy business in a large, diverse city where such promotion can be seen as “peanuts, popcorn and proselytizing,” to quote Chass.
For any non-Christian living in the Nashville area (or many other regions, particularly in the Southern US), the dominance of Christianity in public life is a simple everyday fact; usually not an oppressive one, but just an expression of the majority of the populace. Talk radio hosts intertwine religious and political discussion regularly, driving around town around noon on Sunday (as services let out) is a nightmare, and eventually the Predators avoided scheduling home games on Wednesday nights due to the legions of people who spend those evenings at church. After checking my NHL Super Schedule, I found that Nashville is the only team in the NHL without a Wednesday home game this season. Anaheim has 12, and Chicago 11 such dates, by comparison. Given the situation, for the Predators this presents an opportunity to make a play for group ticket sales.
It should be noted that in promoting Fellowship Night this evening, the Predators are only pitching musical performances during the intermissions by Christian groups (Christian Music is a sizeable portion of Nashville’s vital entertainment industry), and the event is sponsored by Trevecca Nazarene University, a provider of “Christian higher education”. As to what else might be in store, we’ll see. As a devout Agnokapathetic, I’ll take an outsider’s view of the proceedings and let you know if anything unusual pops up.
And if I don’t post here in the next few days, just keep an eye out for those “Hockey stats blogger burnt at the stake after Preds game” headlines…
If you’re looking for tickets to this or any other Predators home game, check the sidebar for a discounted ticket offer that I can now provide to my readers.
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