Religion and Sports: An Introduction and Case Studies

Religion and Sports: An Introduction and Case Studies

by Rebecca Alpert


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Like religion, playing and watching sports is a deeply meaningful, celebratory ritual enjoyed by millions across the world. The first scholarly work designed for use in both religion and sports courses, this collection develops and then applies a theoretically grounded approach to studying sports engagement globally and its relationship to modern-day issues of violence, difference, social protest, and belonging.

Case studies explore the place of sports in mainstream faiths, such as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity, and lesser-known religious groups, particularly in Africa. It covers football, baseball, and basketball but also archery, soccer, bullfighting, judo, and track. Essays reflect all skill levels, from amateur to professional, and find surprising affinities among practices and cultures in locations as disparate as Germany and Japan, Spain and Saudi Arabia. Thoroughly examining a range of phenomena, this collection fully captures the unique overlap of two universal institutions and their interplay with human society, politics, and culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231165709
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 05/05/2015
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Rebecca T. Alpert is professor of religion at Temple University. She is the author of Like Bread on the Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition, which won a Lambda Literary Award and Award for Scholarship from the Jewish Women's Caucus of the Association for Women in Psychology; Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball; and Whose Torah? A Concise Guide to Progressive Judaism.

Table of Contents

A Note to Instructors on How to Use This Text
Introduction: Why Study Religion and Sports
Part 1: Why Do People Think Sports Are a Religion?
Case 1. Friday Night Lights: High School Football as Religion in Odessa
Case 2. Oscar Pistorius and What It Means to Be Human
Part 2: Does Religion Have a Place in Sports, or Sports in Religion?
Case 3. Zen and Archery in Japan
Case 4. O God of Players: Prayer and Women's Basketball at a Catholic College
Case 5. Juju: Witchcraft and African Football
Case 6. Jewish Umpires and Baseball Chapel
Part 3: What Happens When Religion and Sports Come Into Conflict?
Case 7. American Jews and the Boycott of the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Case 8. The Belleville Grays and Playing Sports on the Sabbath
Case 9. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and the National Anthem Ritual in the NBA
Case 10. Judo and Hijab at the Olympics
Part 4: Religion and Ethical Dilemmas in Sports
Case 11. Caroline Pla and CYO Football: Should Girls Be Allowed to Compete with Boys?
Case 12. Should the Roman Catholic Church Condemn Bullfighting in Spain?
Case 13. Florida State University Seminoles' Osceola and Renegade: Mascots or Symbols
Case 14. Jack Taylor's 138 Points: Is "Running Up the Score" Christian?
Case 15. Conclusion: What Would Phil Jackson Do?

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