Religion and Sports

An Introduction and Case Studies

Rebecca T. Alpert

Columbia University Press

Religion and Sports

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Pub Date: May 2015

ISBN: 9780231165716

224 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $28.00£22.00

Pub Date: May 2015

ISBN: 9780231165709

224 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£70.00

Pub Date: May 2015

ISBN: 9780231539326

224 Pages

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List Price: $27.99£22.00

Religion and Sports

An Introduction and Case Studies

Rebecca T. Alpert

Columbia University Press

Like religion, playing and watching sports is a deeply meaningful, celebratory ritual enjoyed by millions across the world. The first scholarly work designed for use in both religion and sports courses, this collection develops and then applies a theoretically grounded approach to studying sports engagement globally and its relationship to modern-day issues of violence, difference, social protest, and belonging.

Case studies explore the place of sports in mainstream faiths, such as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity, and lesser-known religious groups, particularly in Africa. It covers football, baseball, and basketball but also archery, soccer, bullfighting, judo, and track. Essays reflect all skill levels, from amateur to professional, and find surprising affinities among practices and cultures in locations as disparate as Germany and Japan, Spain and Saudi Arabia. Thoroughly examining a range of phenomena, this collection fully captures the unique overlap of two universal institutions and their interplay with human society, politics, and culture.
In Religion and Sports, Rebecca T. Alpert offers a series of expertly crafted case studies with innovative, provocative, and compelling suggested exercises for classroom use. The case studies are superb in their content and accessibility and cover a wide range of sports from across the globe, raising important questions related to race, gender, ethnicity, creed, pluralism, and moral complexity. Arthur Remillard, Saint Francis University
Alpert explicitly seeks to add religions with their similar and different characteristics to the conversation about sports because she wants to explore how these two (nearly ubiquitous) spheres of life together might help us better understand what it means to be human in relation to the environment, to other living creatures, and to each other. John B. White, Baylor University
The majority of previous books on sport and religion have focused on specific religious traditions. Religion and Sports, however, provides varied and deep insights into the symbiotic relationship between Protestant and Catholic forms of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Zen Buddhism, to name a few. Perhaps, though, the most impressive aspect of this new and important book is its usefulness in the classroom. With rich case studies, study questions for class discussion at the end of each chapter, and a chapter entitled What would Phil Jackson Do?, this book will interest and engage students and will be an invaluable resource for educators. Nick J. Watson, York St John University, and coauthor, Sport and the Christian Religion
In Religion and Sports Rebecca T. Alpert provides a much needed, interactive introduction to this emerging field in interdisciplinary studies. Using case studies that involve diverse religions and multiple sports, Alpert's ingenious work stimulates students to engage various intersections between sports and religion. To guide them through their encounters with the complex cases, Alpert provides specific learning objectives, assorted exercises and activities, and a series of probing questions for each chapter. Simply, this is a model textbook for cultivating student interest in religious studies and the significance of sports. Joseph L. Price, author of Rounding the Bases: Baseball and Religion in America
This worthy book should be adopted by a number of sport and religion courses and should be required reading for sports officials. Excellent bibliography, notes, and index. Choice
[This book] offers a number of interesting case studies and accounts which argue for the inclusion of the theme of religion and sport in the discourse of sports science as well as in the discourses of theology and the social sciences... Researchers and lecturers who are interested in the subject of sport and religion will enjoy reading this book and may possibly find in it examples which they can use in lectures and seminars. Dagmar Dahl, Nord University, idrottsforum.org
A Note to Instructors on How to Use This Text
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Why Study Religion and Sports
Part 1: Why Do People Think Sports Are a Religion?
Case 1. Friday Night Lights: High School Football as Religion in Odessa
Case 2. Oscar Pistorius and What It Means to Be Human
Part 2: Does Religion Have a Place in Sports, or Sports in Religion?
Case 3. Zen and Archery in Japan
Case 4. O God of Players: Prayer and Women's Basketball at a Catholic College
Case 5. Juju: Witchcraft and African Football
Case 6. Jewish Umpires and Baseball Chapel
Part 3: What Happens When Religion and Sports Come Into Conflict?
Case 7. American Jews and the Boycott of the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Case 8. The Belleville Grays and Playing Sports on the Sabbath
Case 9. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and the National Anthem Ritual in the NBA
Case 10. Judo and Hijab at the Olympics
Part 4: Religion and Ethical Dilemmas in Sports
Case 11. Caroline Pla and CYO Football: Should Girls Be Allowed to Compete with Boys?
Case 12. Should the Roman Catholic Church Condemn Bullfighting in Spain?
Case 13. Florida State University Seminoles' Osceola and Renegade: Mascots or Symbols
Case 14. Jack Taylor's 138 Points: Is "Running Up the Score" Christian?
Case 15. Conclusion: What Would Phil Jackson Do?
Notes
Index

About the Author

Rebecca T. Alpert is professor of religion at Temple University. She is the author of Like Bread on the Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition, which won a Lambda Literary Award and Award for Scholarship from the Jewish Women's Caucus of the Association for Women in Psychology; Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball; and Whose Torah? A Concise Guide to Progressive Judaism.