Christianity and the Culture of Sports
Publication Year: 2010
In recent years the United States has seen an influx of Christian athletes and coaches into big-time sports, as well as a heightened importance placed on sports in church programs and at Christian schools and colleges. However, as Shirl Hoffman critiques, a Christian vision of sport remains merely superficial—replete with prayers before free throws and praises after touchdowns but offering little, if any, alternative vision from the secular sports culture.
Good Game retells numerous fascinating stories from the world of ancient and contemporary sports and draws on the history of the Christian tradition to answer “What would it really mean to think Christianly about sport?”
Published by: Baylor University Press
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This book had a gestation period extending over several decades. The trail of those who helped along the way tracks far back-so far, in fact, that in attempting to thank those who helped, I am almost certain to omit somebody's name. James Sire asked me to do a book on the topic thirty years ago...
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As the son of a Baptist minister growing up in western Pennsylvania, I experienced firsthand the peculiar way Americans mix sport with religion. Almost all of my memories of my teenage years are framed in the context of either religion or athletic competition...
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In Warren St. John's Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, a fascinating account of the lunacy that is University of Alabama football fandom, he describes a conversation with a Mr. and Mrs. Reese in their $300,000 motor home purchased exclusively for traveling to the Crimson Tide's games. The couple, it turns out, had missed their daughter's wedding ...
1 Sports and the Early Church
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The story of evangelicalism's dance with sports begins, appropriately enough, with the dawn of a faith that made its appearance in the context of sports-crazed societies. In the towns and cities where the gospel was first preached, athletics and sporting spectacles were woven into the fabric of civic life; they symbolized not only urban life, but what it meant ...
2 Proscribing, Controlling, and Justifying Sport
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During the first three centuries of its existence, the church operated in the shadows of a pagan society, forced to define itself in contrast to the traditions, customs, and practices of a largely hostile culture. In drawing its boundaries, the church positioned public sport spectacles outside the parameters of a Christian lifestyle. With the conversion ...
3 Bowling, Bicycles, and Other Snares of the Devil
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The Protestant Reformation severed the relationship that had existed between the medieval church and sports, games, and popular culture. Sports had been so entangled with the liturgical calendar and religious celebration that reformers found it almost impossible to distinguish between the two. For many, rejecting the Catholic festivals of May Day ...
4 The Church Heads for the Playground
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By the end of the nineteenth century, sport was beginning to stamp its imprint on the American character; the country was on the threshold of an era some historians call "the golden age of sports." The first gloved boxing match was showcased during this period, basketball and volleyball were invented, ice hockey was introduced from Canada, golf was ...
5 The Rise of Sport Evangelism
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The progressive philosophy of the social gospel movement would continue to be associated with liberal theology and practice, but its force as a revitalizing and unifying agent for Protestantism had greatly diminished by 1920. The world was not getting better, as Enlightenment evangelicalism had predicted. By the end of World War I, the stage was set for a...
6 Christians and the Killer Instinct
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Competition is an indispensable element of sport. Rid sport of competitors' mutual striving for a prize available only to one of them and you change it into something entirely different. But competition also is the element in sport most difficult to align with the Christian faith. A fair reading of the history of the relationship between sport and the church ...
7 Building and Sacking the Temple
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Until you hear the music, it looks like any other exercise video. An attractive, healthy-looking exercise leader in the foreground, backed up by a handful of willing novices, takes viewers through a series of light weight exercises, stretching, and low-impact aerobics in a large, comfortable room...
8 Sport and the Sub-Christian Values
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"I see that more NFL players are in trouble with the law," Jay Leno told his late night audience. "Imagine how bad it would be if football didn't develop character."� Pushed to explain why sports are vital to society or to their personal lives, sooner or later most people will point to the way they strengthen moral fiber and instruct players and coaches in the right ...
9 Touchdowns and Slam Dunks for Jesus
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On the evening of February 4, 2007, two men embraced at midfield in Miami's Dolphin Stadium, unaffected by the falling rain. Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith, long-time friends and brothers in the faith, had just experienced the ultimate of athletic encounters: their teams had met in the Super Bowl. Dungy's Indianapolis Colts had beaten Smith's Chicago ...
10 Prayers Out of Bounds
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Homer's Iliad contains what modern sportscasters would call " a color commentary" of a footrace held as part of the funeral games honoring the slain warrior Patroclus. Ajax breaks out in the lead at the start, followed so closely by Odysseus that Ajax can feel him breathing down his neck as he runs "lightly and relentlessly on."...
11 Notes Toward a Well-Played Game
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Reimagining sport in the Christian life will require readjusting old views and taking steps to bring the way sports are organized and played into harmony with the new vision. This will be difficult, not simply because the entrenched sports establishment brooks no attempts to change the way it does business, but because a religion of sorts is already woven into sports....
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Page Count: 356
Publication Year: 2010