Abstract and Keywords
Sport and religion are closely interrelated phenomena and this chapter details five significant intersections between sport and religion. First, in premodern polytheistic societies, ritualized sports were often part of devotional activities directed to the gods. Second, physical exertion may act as a trigger for altered states of consciousness in both sporting and religious contexts, which is why trials of sporting prowess merit consideration as religious acts or spiritual experiences. Third, sporting champions frequently profess faith and credit their success to divine intervention. Fourth, fan devotion to sporting stars and teams may resemble religious devotion. Finally, in the context of the secular West, sports may function as a substitute for religion, or as a ‘secular religion,’ for certain people in the contemporary, deregulated spiritual marketplace. This chapter provides evidence of all five of these relations between religion and sport, and ranges across historical eras and cultures.
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