1st Edition

Religion and Sport in North America Critical Essays for the Twenty-First Century

Edited By Jeffrey Scholes, Randall Balmer Copyright 2023
    296 Pages
    by Routledge

    296 Pages
    by Routledge

    From athletes praising God to pastors using sport metaphors in the pulpit, the association between sport and religion in North America is often considered incidental. Yet religion and sport have been tightly intertwined for millennia and continue to inform, shape, and critique one another. Moreover, sport, rather than being a solely secular activity, is one of the most important sites for debates over gender, race, capitalism, the media, and civil religion.

    Traditionally, scholarly writings on religion and sport have focused on the question of whether sport is a religion, using historical, philosophical, theological, and sociological insights to argue this matter. While these efforts sought to answer an important question, contemporary issues related to sports were neglected, such as globalization, commercialization, feminism, masculinity, critical race theory, and the ethics of doping. This volume contains lively, up-to-date essays from leading figures in the field to fill this scholarly gap. It treats religion as an indispensable prism through which to view sports, and vice versa.

    This book is ideal for students approaching the topic of religion and sport. It will also be of interest to scholars studying sociology of religion, sociology of sport, religion and race, religion and gender, religion and politics, and sport in general.


    Randall Balmer and Jeffrey Scholes

    Part 1 Evangelicalism and Sport

    1 "There Is Talk of Black Power": Christian Athletes and the Revolt of the Black Athlete

    Paul Emory Putz

    2 "The Greatest Christian Movie of All Time": 300 and Spartan Masculinity as Cultural Repertoire in Christian Mixed Martial Arts and Beyond

    Zachary T. Smith

    3 Forgiving Freeze: Jerry Falwell Jr., Donald Trump, and the Making of Liberty University Football

    Daniel A. Grano

    Part 2 Sport as a Religio-cultural Vehicle

    4 Structuring Sports, Structuring Community: The Islamic Society of Chester County Debates a Basketball Court

    Megan Eaton Robb and Max Dugan

    5 Desiring "Deep Community": Formations of Soccer and Evangelical Christianity in the British Columbia Christian Soccer League

    Nicholas William Howe Bukowski

    6 Sport, Religion, and Absence: The Subfield of Religion and Sport as an Explanatory Tool for the Moment

    Terry Shoemaker

    Part 3 Religion, Sport, and the Market

    7 Foucault for Heisman: College Football and the Liturgies of Power

    Jason M. Smith

    8 "Be More Human": CrossFit, Reebok, and Sporting Consumerism

    Cody Musselman

    9 Fandom Transfigured: Fantasy Football as Neoliberal Religion

    Jeremy Sabella

    Part 4 Religion and Sport through a Racial Frame

    10 Ted Corbitt: The Once-forgotten and Now-remembered Pioneer of American Distance Running

    Arthur Remillard

    11 Savage Symbols: Native American Mascots in the USA

    Annie Blazer

    12 Race, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, and Religious Realism

    Lori Latrice Martin

    13 ¿Dios Bendiga Whose América? Resisting the Ritual Theologizing of Nation

    Carmen M. Nanko-Fernández

    Postscript: White Hauntings, Black Hoops: The Ghosts of Kyrie Irving

    Onaje X. O. Woodbine


    Jeffrey Scholes is Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, USA.

    Randall Balmer is John Phillips Chair in Religion at Dartmouth College, USA.