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I have not come to bury the United Methodist Church (like most large denominational bureaucracies, it is perfectly capable of committing institutional suicide on its own), but to praise it for its prophetic, far-sighted attempt to reform professional sports.

Recently, the UMC decided it will NOT hold its 2012 General Conference (a nationwide meeting held every four years) in Richmond, Virginia. Why? Because the name of the city's minor league baseball team is "racially charged." The team's name is the Richmond Braves.

How insensitive of Richmond to allow its city to be associated with a privately owned team that denigrates Native Americans as noble, strong, and courageous.

The problem for the Methodists started in 2000, when they met in Cleveland, the home of, you guessed it, the Cleveland Indians. By the time the 2004 convention rolled, around Methodist delegates were beet red with political correctness and passed a resolution forbidding the denomination from holding meetings in any city that sponsors sports teams brandishing Native American names and symbols, which the resolution called "a blatant expression of racism."

(It didn't seem to faze anyone that this convention was being held in held in Pittsburgh, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, a name that romanticizes raping, pillaging, robbery, and murder.)

Fortunately, the Methodists can put all those horrific and embarrassing incidents behind them. In 2008 they're meeting in Fort Worth, Texas.

Uh, never mind. I guess the Methodists haven't heard of the local arena football team, the Ft. Worth Cavalry, a team name that glorifies militarism and violence TOWARD NATIVE AMERICANS.

Then again, momentous social change doesn't happen in a quadrennium or two. Surely by 2012, they will ...

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Play Ball
From 2005 to 2007, "Play Ball" examined the relationship of sports and faith: sports is important precisely because it is a form of play, that is, a manifestation of the Sabbath. Contributors included Mark Galli, Collin Hansen, Mark Moring, and others.
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