Stadiums are not churches (or: Bud Selig is an asshole)

September 1, 2009

Anyone who knows me knows the following about me, among other things: I have eclectic taste in men (see Friday’s posts). I’m a sports nut. I’m competitive. I love to shop. I love cosmetics. (I’m one of a few women who’s not out of place doing my nails while watching NFL games on TV.) But here are a couple of seemingly random facts about me which actually intersect these days: I admit to a certain amount of conflict about G-d, and I believe the Bill of Rights is the most important document in human history.

So you can imagine my annoyance when, shortly after September 11, 2001, “G-d Bless America” began replacing or preceding “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” between halves of the seventh inning at some MLB games. I was an employee at Oriole Park @ Camden Yards at the time. Eventually, the song became mandatory listening during the seventh inning stretch at all MLB games on Sundays.

This is so wrong on so many levels. Most of the standard reasons are already out there in the blogosphere, but I’ll put my two cents in anyway:

  • Stadiums are not churches. If I want a sermon, I know where (and when) to go to hear one.
  • Oriole Park @ Camden Yards is one of a handful of stadiums that are actually not private property, but public. In the case of OP @ CY, the owner is the Maryland Stadium Authority, a division of Maryland state government. The Orioles pay rent to the MSA each year, as do the other tenants of the property such as the Sports Legends Museum. Several people have raised the issue of separation of church and state created by playing a religious song in a public building.
  • I worked a few hundred games after 9/11/2001, plus attended several dozen as a fan, and have observed a disappointing but predictable behavior: When the PA announcer tells the audience the song is about to be played, and would everyone please rise “and the gentlemen remove their caps,” everyone does so. Like sheep. It gets dead quiet in Camden Yards. Quieter than it gets for the real national anthem. Folks, I have news for you: “G-d Bless America” is not the national anthem. There is about as much obligation to remove one’s headwear for it as for “Happy Birthday to You.” And of course, removing one’s headwear in a religious gesture is uniquely Christian. Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus all cover the head in the presence of the Almighty rather than reveal it. If these people want to show respect, this churchlike behavior should be exhibited during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” not during the seventh-inning stretch.
  • Has it ever occurred to these sheeple that this ostentatious display of piety is exactly why the rest of the world hates us? G-d is too big to fit into one religion. Even Jesus himself said to pray like no one’s watching (Mt 6:1-18). Wearing one’s religion on one’s sleeve can be dangerous. As long as we’re talking about ostentatious displays, by the way, here’s my favorite quote of late: “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carry a cross.” (Look it up, people.)
  • Bud Selig is Jewish, yes. That doesn’t make it right, or persuade me to agree with it. The whole world is so much more than Judeo-Christian. Actually, regarding MLB, the real issue here is that Selig decided and decreed all by himself that all MLB parks  will do this.  (Maybe I should say vill do ziss.) Selig is also the commissioner who unilaterally decreed that all MLB teams will retire uniform number 42, supposedly to honor Jackie Robinson. Insert eyeroll here. I don’t want to get off the topic too much here, but my point here is that Selig is a fascist dictator bureaucrat. No original opinion there.

So this Sunday, when I attended the Orioles-Indians game, I knew exactly what to expect during the seventh-inning stretch, and what I would do. Actually, I had several options: sit quietly, get up and visit the ladies’ room, or leave. I ended up sitting quietly. One fan behind me, apparently an Indians fan visiting for the weekend, also remained seated. Most of the people around me actually didn’t rise at first, but did so by the time the song got to “Stand beside her.” I get the feeling some people stood because they were feeling peer pressure, not necessarily because they were being blindly patriotic. If so, that’s encouraging.

During the song, I made eye contact with a Baltimore City police officer who was standing at the back of the section. He did nothing. Too bad. In a way, I wished he would have done to me what the cops at Yankee Stadium did to Bradford Campeau-Laurion a year ago ( I can use the money.

Here are a few other pages that express my feelings on this subject very well. (interview with Brad Campion)


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