Root Root Root for the Atheists!
By Eric Jayne
There’s been a lot of excitement about NBA Center Jason Collins coming out publicly as gay. Even though he’s a mediocre basketball player, Collins will be forever remembered as the first male professional athlete from one of the big four leagues (National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball) to come out as gay while still active. Thanks to increased tolerance for the LGBT community, Collins has been celebrated by his coach, teammates, fans, and NBA Commissioner David Stern for coming out.
This has been an exciting and significant moment for the LGBT community, but as an atheist I can’t help but wonder how exciting and significant it would also be for a professional athlete to come out as an atheist. With all of the intermingling elements between religion and sports these days (7th inning God Bless America renditions, locker room bible study, and routine Jesus invocations before, during, and after gameplay, for example) there might be far less acceptance for an out-of-the-closet atheist than for an out-of-the-closet gay man.
While there may not be an openly atheist professional athlete from one of the four big leagues, the Minnesota Atheists and the St. Paul Saints are able to offer, for the second year in a row, an entire minor league baseball team that celebrates our atheist community at Midway Stadium for one evening!
The ticket packages are now available at SAINTSGROUPS.com. You will need to use the password “atheists” after the captcha screen. For $21 (a $29 value) you can get an Infield (or Infidel) Reserved ticket plus a very limited edition baseball cap to commemorate the event. The adjustable, one-size-fits-all hat features the Aints logo (with a red “A” in Aints) with some branded as “Mr. Paul” and some branded as “Ms. Paula;” because Minnesota Atheists wanted to ensure representation of both men and women just like the capital city’s namesake, Saint Paul, would have wanted (okay, maybe he wouldn’t have wanted it that way).
The other ticket offer is a bit more affordable but it doesn’t come with a Mr. Paul/Ms. Paula Aints hat. The tickets are for non-reserved General Admission in the outfield. That ticket comes with a soda and hot dog voucher—but no hat—for $10 ($11 value).
Thanks to the open minded, fun-loving, and accepting players and front office management at the St. Paul Saints we had an unbelievably fun evening of atheist camaraderie and family fun last year. We at the Minnesota Atheists are grateful to do business with the St. Paul Saints team again this year and we also appreciate their original willingness and enthusiasm to embark on an adventure into unexplored territory.
The new and unexplored territory this year is the “A” on the Aints player jerseys being red so it better matches the scarlet letter A (last year’s jerseys depicted the “A” but it was kept blue to match the team colors). We are also licensed by the Saints to sell “Aints” merchandise like t-shirts, hats, and personalized jerseys on our ONLINE STORE. You can wear your Mr. Paul Aints gear to show off your fun-loving atheist pride and you’ll be happy to know that all of the net proceeds go to the Minnesota Atheists so we can continue our mission of “Positive Atheism in Action” and community outreach.
Even though atheists don’t have a professional athlete we can point to we do have an entire baseball team that supports atheists in a welcoming and accepting way. I hope to see you at the ballgame on Friday, August 9th, as the Mr. Paul Aints take on the Sioux City Explorers for what will be billed as a Night of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming. The fun will continue the following day at the Ramada Inn on Industrial Blvd. in Minneapolis for an all-day regional conference with the American Atheists! Tickets are on sale for that as well at our online store. Visit MinnesotaAtheists.org/conference for all the details.