1st Edition

Christianity, Race, and Sport

By Jeffrey Scholes Copyright 2021
    144 Pages
    by Routledge

    144 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book provides a rigorously researched introduction to the relationship between Christianity, race, and sport in the United States. Christianity, Race, and Sport examines how Protestant Christianity and race have interacted, often to the detriment of Black bodies, throughout the sporting world over the last century. Important sporting figures and case studies discussed include:

    • the sanctification of baseball player Jackie Robinson;
    • the domestication of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman;
    • religious expressions of athletes in the NFL;
    • treatment of African American tennis player Serena Williams;
    • Colin Kaepernick and his prophetic voice.

    This accessible and conversational book is essential reading for undergraduate students approaching religion and race or religion and sport for the first time, as well as those working within the sociology of sport, sport studies, history of sport, or philosophy of sport.

    1. The Sanctification of Jackie Robinson
    2. The Domestication of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman
    3. Pray the White Way: Religious Expression in the NFL in Black and White
    4. Dabo Swinney, Universal Whiteness, and a "Sin Problem"
    5. Serena Williams and Her Two "Gods"
    6. The Black Prophetic Fire of Colin Kaepernick


    Jeffrey Scholes is associate professor of religious studies in the Department of Philosophy and the Director of the Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, USA.

     "Jeffrey Scholes’s thoughtful book brings concepts from religious studies to bear on black and white race relations in American sports. This is a welcome and attentive analysis of public, mediated reactions to black athletes and reveals that white Protestant norms disproportionately police, discipline, and exploit black bodies. Scholes takes the reader on an episodic journey through pivotal moments at the intersection of race and sport to show that white America has a deep history of relying on Protestant Christianity to justify a white supremacist order that holds black bodies to be subordinate, valuable for physical labor, and available for white profit. This is a challenging and sensitive study of the workings of white religion in the world of sport. Scholes shows us that religion matters if we want to understand race and sports in the United States."

    Annie Blazer, William & Mary University, USA

    "Confrontations about race in American sport are religious disputes. Jeff Scholes shows how Black athletes reckon with white evangelical expectations for their proper spiritual behaviour. Sports reporters and students of religion and popular culture alike will benefit from learning about the racialized moral surveillance of the white sports establishment."

    Kathryn Lofton, Yale University, USA

    "Timely, relevant, and provocative, Jeffery Scholes offers a compelling analysis of an American sporting landscape that has been indelibly shaped by the intermingling social forces of Christianity and race. While drawing a keen focus on familiar sports figues from Jackie Robinson to Colin Kaepernick, Scholes also shines new light on the unique challenges faced by these athletes as well as on their lasting contributions to athletics and society. Put simply, this is essential reading for anyone interested in a fuller understanding of the interplay of religion, sports, and race in the American past and present."

    Arthur Remillard, Saint Francis University, USA.

    "Christianity, Race, and Sport is an outstanding interdisciplinary work that is written in an insightful and fearless manner. Across each chapter, Scholes writes with truth, vigilance and a sense of urgency when it comes to  addressing the hypersensitive subject matter contained in the book. The content will capture the interest and prophetic imagination of both those in the professorate and students in sport and religion courses globally."

    Steven N. Waller, University of Tennessee, USA.

    "Due to the case-study approach to the subject matter, accessibility of the writing, and relative name recognition of the figures examined, this book would make an excellent addition to syllabi in courses covering topics as varied as Christianity and popular culture, religion and sport, and sport and race. Instructors will find Scholes’ book suitable for both undergraduate and graduate classrooms."

    Zachary T. Smith, Reading Religion