There have always been Christian athletes in the ranks of professional sports. Guys would pray together in the end zone or in the locker room. Last year, some pro teams even started to add religion-themed promotional fan days.
The San Francisco Giants, for example, added days had game promotions for Christian, Jewish, and Mormon fans planned, according to USA Today, which didn’t sit well with Muslim fans of the team. Oakland A’s yarmulkes were handed out a Jewish Heritage Night that team held. The rise of new New York Jet Tim Tebow and the New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin, two very devout Christians (and pals, apparently), has drawn attention to how religion and professional sports mix.
Two pro basketball players — Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Tolliver and former NBA D-Leaguer Lanny Smith — have been capitalizing on all that interest, the Associated Press reports. The pair have started a company that produces sports apparel with Christian messages, called (punningly) Active Faith.
Lin, for one, wears the company’s wristbands during games with the IJNIP (“In Jesus’ Name I Play”) slogan on them, the AP notes. And other pro-ball players are getting into the act, too: Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry and San Diego Padres pitcher Micah Owings have invested in the brand.[more]
“It kind of blew up on us overnight and it turned from something that me and Anthony were working on growing step by step to something that turned global,” Smith said, the AP notes. That growth, of course, is mostly linked to the unbelievable amount of attention Lin received when he first took the New York Knicks on a seven-game winning streak earlier this season. The images of him being flashed across the globe wearing Active’s wristbands was likely the reason the company’s website crashed three times before they could get things under control, AP notes.
“Nike, Adidas, Reebok, UnderArmour, they’ll never make a faith-based product. They’ll never really crossover and touch that,” Smith said, according to the AP. “We felt that this was a niche and a market that we could create. That’s what we plan on doing, almost being the Nike of the Christian sports apparel.”