1st Edition

Sports, Religion and Disability

Edited By Nick J. Watson, Andrew Parker Copyright 2015
    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    256 Pages
    by Routledge

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    This ground-breaking book provides a fascinating insight into the relationship between sports (and leisure), religion and disability. In the shadow of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, at which athletes that were both able-bodied and disabled, provided an extravaganza of sporting excellence and drama, this text is a timely and important synthesis of ideas that have emerged in two previously distinct areas of research: (i) ‘disability sport’ and (ii) the ‘theology of disability’. Many of the elite athletes at this global sporting mega-event often explicitly displayed their religious beliefs, and in turn their importance in the context of sport, by observing different religious rituals, and or, utilising the multi-faith sports chaplaincy service. This raises a whole range of unanswered questions with regard to the intersections between sports, religion and disability, which to-date has been under- researched. Examples of subjects addressed in this text include: elite physical disability sport--Paralympics; intellectual disability sport--Special Olympics; reflections on the illness narrative of the cyclist Lance Armstrong through the lens of the theology of ‘radical orthodoxy’; the application of biblical athletic metaphors in understanding modern conceptions of disability sport; the role of sport and spirituality in the rehabilitation of injured British Military personnel, and; the importance of sports and leisure in L’Arche communities. This book begins a critical conversation on these topics, and many others, for both researchers and practitioners.

    This book was based on two special issues of the Journal of Religion, Disability and Health.

    Preface  1. Special Olympians as a ‘Prophetic Sign’ to the Modern Sporting Babel  2. Disability as a Path to Spiritual Enlightenment: An Ethnographic Account of the Significance of Religion in Paralympic Sport  3. Running the (Special) Race: New (Pauline) Perspectives on Disability and Theology of Sport  4. Towards a Theology of Disability Sport: A Misconstrued Game Plan  5. The Experience of Spirituality and Disability Sport for British Military Personnel Traumatically Injured in Iraq and Afghanistan: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis  6. Nature-Based Recreation, Spirituality, and Persons with Disabilities  7. Researching Religion, Disability, and Sport: Reflections and Possibilities  8. “Celebration” as the Spiritual Expression of Leisure and Sport: Reflections on the L’Arche Tradition and the Special Olympics  9. A Modern Conception of Flesh: Towards a Theology of Disability Sport  10. A Postcolonial Approach to Understanding Sport-Based Empowerment of People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Zambia: The Case of the Cultural Philosophy of Ubuntu  11. Radical Orthodoxy and the Emergence of Spiritual Hero-Athletes: Examining Lance Armstrong’s “Illness” Narrative  12. Meet My Exes: Theological Reflections on Disability and Paralympic Sport—A Continuum of Ephemeral Deaths and Eternal Resurrection  13. Triumph From Anguish: The Inspiration of the Special Olympics  14. Christianity, Sport and Disability: A Case Study of the Role of Long-Distance Running in the Life of a Father and his Son who is Congenitally Blind and has Profound Intellectual Disabilities


    Dr Nick J. Watson is Senior Lecturer in Sport, Culture and Religion at York St John University (YSJU), UK, and is head of pastoral care for sports students. He was the Founding Director of the Centre for the Study of Sport and Spirituality (YSJU, 2003-2009) and is the co-author / editor of a number of books on sport and Christianity.

    Andrew Parker is Professor of Sport and Christian Outreach and Director of the Centre for Sport, Spirituality and Religion (CSSR) in the Faculty of Applied Sciences at the University of Gloucestershire, UK. He is former co-editor of the International Journal of Religion and Sport.

    "The relationship between religion, sport, and disability is a field of enquiry that has been gaining a good deal of traction recently. The subtle but fascinating tensions between the desire to win and the humility and alternative goals that many religious systems require open up a fascinating and multifaceted interdisciplinary conversation that has the potential to enhance and challenge both religion and sport … It is this tension between strength and weakness, competition and humility that runs like a golden thread through the text … The book comprises 14 essays written by people coming from a variety of different perspectives. The interdisciplinary nature of the text means that it is both theoretically rich and practically helpful. Taken together, the essays function to create a rich bricolage of perspectives that gives the reader deep insights into the important connections between religion, sport, and disability … This is a fascinating and original book that has important theoretical and practical implications. In particular, the papers that use qualitative research to gain first-hand experience of disability and sport offer vital insights for practitioners into the ways that people with disabilities perceive and use sport and the therapeutic significance of such engagement … As a resource this book functions well at both the scholarly and the practical level. For those already working in the field, the book offers some fresh original thinking. For those who are just beginning their interest in disability and sport, this book is an ideal introduction to many of the key issues."

    — Professor John Swinton, Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly

    "This volume brings together two issues of the Journal of Religion and Disability, adding a new introduction and preface by the well-known disability ministry figure Joni Erickson Tada as well as a previously unpublished final chapter by the editors. The volume was conceived as a response to the Londo