Sports and Christianity
Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
Edited by Nick J. Watson, Andrew Parker
Routledge – 2013 – 300 pages
This interdisciplinary text examines the sports-Christianity interface from Protestant and Catholic perspectives. In addition to a "systematic review of literature," field-pioneering contributors such as Michael Novak, Shirl Hoffman, Joseph Price and Robert Higgs address a wide range of topics from the sporting world, including biblical athletic metaphors, disability, evangelism, professionalism and celebrity, humility and pride, genetic enhancement technologies, stereotypes, sport as art and British and American historical analyses of sport and Christianity. Insightful chapters from Scott Kretchmar, one of the world’s leading philosophers of sport, and Father Kevin Lixey, the head of the Vatican’s ‘Church and Sport’ office (2004-), add further depth and breadth to this book, making it accessible and interesting to academic and practitioner audiences alike. Within the context of this relatively new and rapidly expanding area of inquiry, this collection provides a unique and important addition to the current literature for both undergraduate and postgraduate students, and serves as a point of reference for scholars of theology and religious studies, psychology, health studies, ethics and sports studies. The book may also be of interest to physical educators and sports coaches who wish to adopt a more "holistic" and ethical approach to their work. As modern sport is often intertwined with commercial and political agendas, this book offers an important corrective to the "win-at-all-costs" culture of modern sport, which cannot be fully understood through secular ethical inquiry.
This significant book is a welcome addition to the growing literature on sport and Christianity. It is hard to think of two people in the UK who have done more to encourage and stimulate such thinking than Nick Watson and Andy Parker.
The book’s purpose is to “illustrate is the way in which this relationship has developed in specific social and cultural contexts and how we might think further about the intimate connections (and disconnections) between sport and the Christian faith”.
The book’s ten chapters cover history, philosophy, sociology and theology. The authors include such eminent scholars as Robert Higgs, Shirl Hoffman, Scott Kretchmar, Kevin Lixey Hugh MacLeod and Tracy Trothen.
The longest and most significant chapter is the authors’ “Sports and Christianity: Mapping the Field” which is the most systematic introduction to the academic literature in the field which is available. The authors survey and contexualize what has been written in a chapter which will undoubtedly become a standard text in the field.
This is followed by a table of key resources to help the reader take it further. There is a list of 35 key texts as well as a 32 page bibliography, with enough material there to keep you reading a lifetime.
An extremely useful book which will be essential reading for anyone who is serious about understanding the relationship od sport and Christianity for some years to come. J.Stuart Weir, Verite Sport
"The essays in Sports and Christianity form a disparate collection, clearing the ground for more systematic inquiry into the intersection of sport and Christian faith…Certain themes recur in the volume: the senses in which sport is a rival or complementary pointer to the "sacred"; the parallels between "flow" or "peak experience" in sport and in the arts and ritual action; the theological and ethical questions raised by "disability" sport and by bio-technological enhancement; the proper part played by the body, given the history of Christian devaluation of the physical as against the spiritual; and the place of sport in Christian education"–Dr Inge
Foreword Michel Novak. Introduction. Andrew Parker and Nick J. Watson Part 1: Historical Perspectives on Sport and Christianity 1. Sports and Christianity: Mapping the Field Nick J. Watson and Andrew Parker 2. Was St. Paul a Sports Enthusiast? Reality and Rhetoric in Pauline Athletic Metaphors Victor C. Pfitzner 3. Sport and Religion in England, c.1790-1914 Hugh McLeod 4. Harvesting Souls in the Stadium: The Rise of Sports Evangelism Shirl James Hoffman 5. Stereotypes and Archetypes in Religion and American Sport Robert J. Higgs Part 2: Contemporary Perspectives on Sport and Christianity 6. Special Olympians as a ‘Prophetic Sign’ to the Modern Sporting Babel Nick J. Watson 7. The Technoscience Enhancement Debate in Sports: What’s Religion Got to Do With It? Tracy J. Trothen 8. The Quest for Perfection in the Sport of Baseball: The Magnanimous Individual or the Magnanimous Team? Jacob L. Goodson 9. The Vatican’s Game Plan for Maximizing Sport’s Educational Potential Kevin Lixey 10. Hard-Won Sporting Achievements and Spiritual Humility: Are They Compatible? Scott Kretchmar
Nick Watson is Senior Lecturer in Sport, Culture and Religion at York St John University, and was the Founding Director of the Centre for the Study of Sport and Spirituality (2003-2009). He is the co-author and co-editor respectively of: Sport and Spirituality: An Introduction (2007) and Theology, Ethics and Transcendence in Sports (2011), both published by Routledge.
Andrew Parker is Professor of Sport and Christian Outreach and Director of the Centre for Sport, Spirituality and Religion (CSSR) in the Faculty of Sport, Health and Social Care at the University of Gloucestershire (UoG), UK.