Religion With Sports and Politics
The other school of thought postulates that participation depends on religious affiliation, tradition or denomination in question. The United States is a highly religious society as compared to its counterparts in other developed countries. For instance, a visitor from Europe once asserted that religion seemed to be hugely influential in American public life as he saw religious messages nearly everywhere. For instance, he saw a sign of on a bumper of a delivery truck informing pedestrians of Jesus. Later he observed a notice on a lawn requesting passers by to call a toll free number if they were in need of prayers.
Scholarship exploring the intersections of sport, spirituality and religion has been growing at a fast pace in recent years (Watson and Parker 2013). This growth may be partly explained by a move away from organized religion towards secularism. Not all countries are seeing a decline of organized religion but such a decline is becoming increasingly evident in parts of the United States and the United Kingdom, the contexts for most of the essays in this Special Issue of Religions. As the body of interdisciplinary scholarly work addressing these intersections increases, more questions and insights are being generated, as evidenced in this collection. The scholars who have contributed articles to this Special Issue include experts in: sports studies; health, human performance and recreation; religion; Christian theology; philosophy; Judaism; rehabilitation therapy; and history. While most of the essays in this issue employ theoretical approaches, Robert Ellis, Terry Shoemaker, Andrew Parker and Mark Oliver also use social scientific research methods. The authors’ diverse expertise and research methods yield fascinating new questions and postulations that expand this field of inquiry.Eric Bain-Selbo and Gregory Sapp do an excellent job, in their 2016 book Understanding Sport as a Religious Phenomenon—An Introduction, establishing that sports have the capacity to achieve ends similar to those achieved by organized religions (Bain-Selbo and Sapp 2016).
But these types of causality-oriented analyses are important because they help confirm and challenge scholars’ understanding of where religion fits into the mix of factors that shape political attitudes and behaviors. I believe that the empirical results derived from the methodological design presented here provide a good starting point. The results imply that, at times, Americans’ religion plays a small role in the development of their politics. But, according to the data and design used here, religion has a far weaker effect on politics than many cross-sectional studies find.
Bain-Selbo, Eric, and Gregory D. Sapp. 2016. Understanding Sport as a Religious Phenomenon—An Introduction. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Trothen, Tracy J. 2018. Spirituality, Sport, and Doping: More Than Just a Game. Springer Briefs Sport and Religion Series; Basel: Springer International Publishing.
Watson, Nick J., and Andrew Parker. 2013. Sports and Christianity: Mapping the Field. In Sports and Christianity: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Edited by Nick J. Watson and Andrew Parker. New York: Routledge, pp. 9–88.