Sports, Religion, and Social Justice

Some friends of mine, including my cool girlfriend, organized this panel discussion on campus. I thought - in light of Opening Day and all - that the questions might provoke some interesting discussion.

• Do pastors really need to know anything about sports? • What can sports teams and sports fans teach Christians about community? • How do athletics serve a liturgical purpose? • Are sports competing with church in US society? How so? Is that a bad thing? • What sermon will you give on Super Bowl Sunday? • What are some ethical implications of the Olympic Games? • How can sports and religion cooperate to bring about justice and improve people's lives?

By the way, I'm an avid golfer, basketball and racquetball player, and head out to watch A's games every once in awhile.

What sports do you play or watch religiously? And how do you answer some of those questions?


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/464

sports, like prayers, make you believe in something
in sports you believe in some kind of team in the church in God
I believe that pastors need to know something about sports so that they can attract people to church or just hold a conversation
there is nothing wrong with that

1 Like

I think it’s good to know about lots of things. I don’t think that anything should be done with some ulterior motive. If sports is an interest, great. If not, don’t force it. Be authentic, but don’t look down on others who may enjoy things that aren’t part of your experience.

I’m a huge, huge, huge football fan, both college and pro. We’ve been going to The University of MT football games for about 15 years. We tailgate with some other families, and it’ s so much fun. It’s a great time gathering with old friends, making new ones, enjoying good food and fellowship. There are people there from their 80’s to 8 months. It’s a family and friends affair. It’s something that is done (many times) for several generations. It’s light and familial. Great conversations happen between people, even spiritual ones. And yes…a fantastic community atmosphere. There’s nothing like an autumn game day! Unfortunately, this year, the season was cancelled. They may have a shortened season in the spring. I hope so!

I don’t think so, anymore than many other things. I’m may not be the person to ask, because I’m not one who thinks that someone has to be in a certain building, at a certain time. Spiritual life happens all the time, in all places.

They already do. There are many players (and coaches) who are people of faith, and this is something that is in evidence in the locker room, on the field, in their communities, and in social interactions. Plenty of players talk about how their coach mentored them, sometimes prayed with and for them, and directed their path in a more positive direction. We watch College Game Day on ESPN, and another pregame show on Sunday (yes, we love football :100: :wink: :heart_eyes:), and this is where you hear the stories of the players who are doing so many good things in their communities…for children, for people struggling with many different issues, and you can hear about their faith.

The biggest thing I hear over and over, is that the one thing the players will miss most when they retire, is the camaraderie with their team mates. Lifetime bonds are formed. It’s a brotherhood, and again, God and faith play a huge role in their lives and relationships.

I think that football fans get a bad rap sometimes…as if they only watch football, are somehow not very intelligent, almost neanderthals, etc. This is sooo wrong. Fans come from all walks of life, have full lives outside of the game, and are overall, kind, loving, generous, multi-faceted people.

I’m running long on this but, a story for you.

We tailgate with a family who, between them (mother, father, grown son and DIL), have multiple degrees (6 or 7) from the University of Montana…huge supporters and fans. The grandaughter (Sarah) was diagnosed with cancer several years ago at about age 10. One of the former U of M football players (Brock Coyle), was playing for the Seahawks. Someone told him about Sarah. Brock invited the family to come to Seattle and attend their practice, meet the guys, etc. Brock and his wife became friends with Sarah’s parents, and kept up with her situation. Brock’s wife would call Sarah’s mom several times a week, as well. Very sadly, Sarah did passed away, and Brock and his wife were at her funeral and spoke about Sarah and the impact that she made on their lives.

All of this to say…football (or whatever sport), can and does bring people together, is a vehicle for community and the sharing of faith, the sharing of the good and the bad life experiences, and having a lot of fun along the way.

Today we will be watching SEC football (the best football conference) :wink:, and some ACC football.

1 Like

Sports are really about competitive development, improvement and execution of specific skills in individual and group settings.

Sounds familiar? :slight_smile:

1 Like

Lots of good things…responsibility, showing up, team work, discipline, sportsmanship, respect.

1 Like

Well, I think you have an idea regarding the level of (dis)interest in sports from the lack of responses here. Perhaps a younger demographic would have more thoughts.

1 Like

What topics get the most response here, probably in that order

  1. WO
  2. LGBTQ and Church
  3. EGW
  4. US Politics
  5. Racism / SJ


    97 … Sports

:slight_smile:

But hey, it’s in the top 100 at least, even though it doesn’t get a “proper article” :slight_smile:

1 Like