When Religion and Sports Cards Collide

I should start this post by stating that I am a born-again Christian. I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior and I am not ashamed to admit that. I’m not saying I am perfect as my faith is a continual work-in-progress and I have been known to stumble quite a few times. I’m also not a carbon copy of a typical Christian mold as I enjoy listening to hard rock, drinking a good beer, and smoking a fine cigar (all at the same time when possible). But this article is not about my personal beliefs or values. It is not about a great theological debate. It is not intended to stir up controversy. It is not meant to point fingers or call names. It is simply a way for me to get some of my recent thoughts into the open, if only to allow me to think through them more fully, and to allow for you to express your opinions on the topic if you wish.

There are two things that hopefully we can all agree on when it comes to religion and pop culture mixing: 1) a lot has changed in America since John Lennon sparked a national riot by stating the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus“, and 2) Tim Tebow has been a source of great debate in recent months for his bold stance for his Christian beliefs. It seems that almost every where you turn in the sports world recently, particularly with the NFL draft just hours from kicking off, there are tons of people praising Tebow for his unashamed display of religion while just as many others are ready for him to disappear to end his seemingly arrogant and in-your-face publicity. I for one am in both camps. I applaud a public figure not being afraid to state his beliefs, but I’m also not a fan of anyone who receives as much coverage as he has in the past four years; I appreciate his charitable work yet am annoyed at the constant mentions on SportsCenter. But when does it go further than what some Joe Schmoe like me thinks?

This morning when I was checking on my fantasy baseball league, this article caught my attention. In it, the author claims that Tebow’s religion could actually be a detractor from his draft value as NFL owners may be weary of the potential political implications of his historically outspoken religious views and affiliations. In an era where teams are lucky just to keep their starters out of jail and on the field, a player being labeled “too good” would seem preposterous. Yet that label is out there. If that is the stance of several NFL front offices, I have to wonder what the Hobby implications are for Tebow. Are collectors clamoring to get ahold of his cards or are they sick and tired of hearing his name and staying far away?

A quick search of completed listings on eBay does not seem to point in either direction. Tebow’s autographed cards are going for $70-$90 while more rare variations are demanding over $125. Compared to Sam Bradford’s autographed cards, this appears to be reasonable for a high-profile quarterback as the two young stars are generally selling for the same amounts. Tebow’s cards may be inflated a bit due to his Press Pass exclusive contract (and resulting lower supply of product), but that is hard to measure.

Personally, I enjoy when a player adds a scripture inscription or when a seller openly makes his religious views known. However, I wouldn’t say it affects my collecting habits at all. I don’t go out of my way to collect or avoid any player based on his beliefs. Likewise, I’ve never banned a seller or fellow blogger for having different opinions than my own, nor have I put one on a pedastool simply for expressing his convictions. To me, my God and my hobby are not mutually exclusive, but I also do not make decisions in either realm based solely on the other.

I am wondering what your takes are on religion and sports cards. Do you applaud and try to collect players who are openly religious? Do you hate when church mixes with anything else and infiltrates your autographs box? Are you impressed or offended when a player adds a Bible verse to his inscription? In a slightly different vein, are you turned off when an eBay seller adds “God bless” to your packaging slip, or are you more likely to be a repeat customer because you assume a Christian dealer will be more honest and fair? Or does none of this matter to you and you just buy and sell as if religion had no place in the Hobby, regardless of what your personal beliefs are?

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6 Responses to When Religion and Sports Cards Collide

  1. jswaykos says:

    I do not care at all about other peoples views, opinions, and beliefs. If you’re religious, so be it. If not, that’s fine, too. It is not my life that is affected by what someone else believes in, so what difference does it actually make?

    As for religious inscriptions with autographs, I think they’re kinda cool since they make it a little more personal. It’s a nice glimpse into a player’s personal life, which is nice.

    Of course, in my limited religious knowledge, I seem to recall the bible saying something along the lines of keeping worship to yourself (do not do it publicly so as to seek attention and/or reward for it). It’s definitely a bible verse and I’m drawing a complete blank with what it actually says, maybe you can help. So I DO find outward displays of religion by athletes (and people in general, I suppose) a bit hypocritical.

  2. CPAdave says:

    That is an interesting observation. I also cannot remember the exact verse, but yes, you have the right idea. Jesus was telling his followers that prayer and worship should be personal. Not in the sense that it can’t be displayed, but in that time, many Jews were proudly displaying their beliefs and praying aloud in the streets so everyone could see how holy they were. They were missing the point.

    It would be interesting to know how many of the athletes who thank God in press conferences and take a knee after every touchdown or point to the sky after every hit truly live out their beliefs rather than simple public displays.

    But on the trading card side, I agree that it shouldn’t affect your collecting habits and that inscriptions of anything, including “God bless” or a Bible verse, are cool.

  3. Alex says:

    First off I’ll state that I am a devout athiest, though I come from a religious family.

    I don’t have a problem with Tim Tebow (or anyone else) being religious. I don’t have a problem with them publicly stating and telling people about their religion. What I do have a problem with is those people who want to impose their religious views on me and the rest of society. What do I mean?

    If Tebow had his way, abortions would be outlawed. Why? Because his religious beliefs say it is murder. Someone who is pro-choice does not tell a pregnant Christian that she should have an abortion. Someone who is pro-choice is about giving a pregnant woman, Christian or otherwise, the choice of having a baby or having an abortion, whatever she chooses. However, a right to lifer like Tim Tebow doesn’t believe in giving people that choice. According to Tim Tebow, a pregnant woman must have the baby, no choice. This is why I despsise him – he tries to impose his Nazi (yes, the Nazis hated abortions because they were anti-family) values on others.

    Similarly there are his views on homosexuality, which he feels “unnatural” and thus should be “treated” by what amounts to physical and mental torture. The reality is that homosexuality is normal – it has been common throughout human history, and is common amongst animals, particularly the higher species like dolphins and chimpanzes. There is thus nothing unnatural about it, and there is nothing to treat – homosexuality is a normal part of nature. Yet, if Tebow had his way, people would be physically and mentally tortured until they are broken and agree to say and do anything. This is why I despsise him – again he tries to impose his Nazi (yes, the Nazis hated homsexuality as anti-family, and sent gay men to concentration camps) values on others.

    So, again, I don’t have a problem with Tebow and his religion. I have a problem with him trying to impose it on others. That is why I hate Osama bin Tebow and anything to do with him, and I hope he fails miserably.

  4. CPAdave says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, Alex. It’s nice to hear someone who can articulate their thoughts on this type of topic without just coming across as ignorant.

    I do not think abortions should occur, but I’m also not an advocate for making them illegal (people will do it one way or another and at least this way women can be assured they are getting professional and safe proceedures – besides, who am I to tell pregnant women what they can and cannot do with their bodies and potential families?) It sounds like you and I wouldn’t necessarily agree on everything, but I respect your opinions. I will hold onto my religious convictions, but I will not force you to do the same. Religion should never be anything besides a person’s choice (a big reason, I believe, that communism has traditionally failed across history).

    This is actually the reason I really hesitated to post this article at all. I didn’t want to come across as the holier-than-thou type or alienate people who are uncomfortable with religious topics. Ultimately, this is a sports card blog and I do not plan to bring this topic up again, at least for a very long time. It was just something I had been thinking about and wondered what other people’s thoughts were.

    Thanks for sharing yours!

  5. Alex says:

    You know what – I agree. Personally I think women shouldn’t have abortions because both men and women should take precautions to ensure that unwanted pregnancies don’t occur. But when they do occur, then it is a women’s choice as to whether she wants to have an abortion or not – it’s her body. Having known women who have had abortions, it is not an easy decision, nor one they make lightly.

    As I said, much of my family is very religious, and I have no problems with that – in fact my brother works for a church and we get along very well. However he believes that one’s actions in genuinely helping others in real need, not “moral” need, should show to the world what their faith is all about. Don’t preach to people, help them. And I don’t have a problem with that.

    And I definately don’t believe in outlawing religion – both my parents came from communist countries, and as such freddom to choose your religion, or lack of, is something I cherish. Sorry if I came accross as otherwise.

    As for Tebow cards, definately not my cup of tea, even more so if they have bible verses on it.

  6. CPAdave says:

    Nope, you didn’t come across wrong. I just wanted to emphasize that choice portion.

    I do like what you said about your brother’s views. I definitely try to live by the “show your light to the world” mentality. I could ride on a religous high horse until Kingdom come, but if I don’t put my faith into action and actually help people, it doesn’t do any good. If I can help someone in actual need, like you said, that is all that matters, even if my beliefs are never known by the person I’m helping.

    I’m glad we’ve been able to have a good conversation on this.

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