Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Soccer, Hockey and Jesus: A Modern Parable.

What do all of these have in common? Probably not much at first glance. One uses a ball, one uses a puck and one uses nothing (because the Second person of the Trinity is all sufficient in himself). One might say all three have a passionate fan bases All three groups of followers are trying to win the majority of a culture (which wants nothing to do with each of them) over as fan. The "fan bases" want to "convert and disciple" new fans. While being a Christian is not the same as being a fan, some Christians believe that they are like any group that needs to persuade people to "cheer for Jesus and follow him" with more intensity then one would follow a sport.

The objects of devotion is different but all of them have thought the same approach should work in gaining adherents. Let's Try and make the object of devotion more accessible. The thought goes that the barrier to getting people interested is that they are just ignorant to the greatness of the game. The solution is to "dumb down" the presentation to welcome in the new people. We need to figure out the things people hate and fix them. The fanatics would stay no matter what and they would welcome the chance to "roll out the red carpet" to welcome the people to the sport.

Well, it didn't work in Hockey. Fox introduced the "Glow puck" and new people found it confusing and diehards hated it. The NHL became the but of jokes. Also, new people didn't join in to watch. Players claimed the puck bounced different. True fans wanted a high standard of coverage but the "glow puck" changed the game experience so much that no one liked it.

Soccer faced the same problem, tried the same thing and got the same result in the United States. The thought was people just needed to education and American voices. In a recent podcast, Rebecca Lowe discussed how NBCSN was going to tow that line but still do things like Britain. It was agreed that NBCSN would not dumb things down because that has not worked before. If soccer was going to grow, it had to cater to the "real fans" while making sure to any additions would not be obtrusive to what makes fan love the sport in the beginning.

Yet, Christians will still claim we need to change the bad parts and that would make us grow. That has worked so well for things that don't have the gates of Hell lined up against it so it should work when the stakes are higher. Makes perfect sense to me. . .