In Germany, both the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church have been cooperating with the popular cultural domain of sports in various formats. This cooperation attests to the mainline churches’ aspirations to engage with this field of popular culture in a sustainable manner. It may also be understood as one aspect of their attempt to counterbalance a loss of members and become more relevant in people’s everyday lives. Potential competitors, sports and the mainline Christian churches in Germany renegotiate their relationship in this way. I argue in this article that this relationship is conceptualized as both partnership and competition. This discursive situation affects both the mainline churches and sports, but it leads to transformations at the expense of the churches. Therefore, I suggest speaking of an asymmetrical relationship between mainline churches and sports.


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