Kicking the bucket through those great goal posts in the sky

casketI'm a huge baseball fan. If I could have dinner with anyone living or dead, it would be Albert Pujols. If I were ever to launch a political campaign, it would be to abolish the designated hitter rule. And I frequently begin statements with the phrase, "When I become baseball commissioner . . ." So I had more than a few friends pass along this Reuters story about a deal signed with Major Leage Baseball that allows the Eternal Image company to reproduce the names and logos of all 30 league teams on a new line of caskets and urns:

"Fans incorporate baseball in nearly every aspect of life," Eternal Image Chief Executive Clint Mytych said, adding that the caskets could appeal to "a market that is just waiting for a way to make team loyalty a final statement of a great passion in their lives."

The urns and caskets will go on sale next year at prices from about $600 to $3,500, Mytych said.

"Our clubs receive these requests with some frequency. We have really passionate fans," Major League Baseball spokeswoman Susan Goodenow said, adding that the deal gives the sport's governing body control of the tastefulness of the product.

The Reuters story was all of a few hundred words and little more than a glorified press release.

Why are so many stories about sports and religion so shallow? The fact is that sports have superseded religion in most areas as the dominant means for communal interaction. Athletes are much more popular than saints or religious figures. Team colors are donned much more fervently than liturgical colors. Sports arenas are viewed by many as places for worship and devotion -- and, sometimes, as sanctuaries -- more than cathedrals are. Fans may spend more time tracking their fantasy stats than they do studying religious texts. And there's little question that religious feast days are being displaced by more important days (Superbowl Sunday comes to mind).

These are all aspects of an interesting sociological phenomenon. So when Major League Baseball contracts with a company to use team logos on urns and caskets, I wonder if Reuters' reporter might get a comment or two from folks who could provide perspective.

Photo via Flickr.

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