Saving Sport: Sport, Society and Spirituality
Kevin O’Gorman, Columbia Press
“If sport is a new form of spirituality which has no need for Christianity, and the texts of sporting journalists tell of an alternative theology, the churches need urgently to address this alienation in its many aspects.”
Sports generate important social, cultural and ethical issues through their global involvement with international communication and commercial interests.
O’Gorman believes it is also a theological issue. He quotes one commentator on “the real danger of sport becoming a religion for the many, with its quasi-religious terminology: spirit, ritual, dedication, sacrifice, ultimate, commitment, not to mention the colourful banners and signs, the fanatic supporters and mini-skirted vestal virgins”.
The association of the language of faith and worship, spirituality and salvation with sporting activities and participants, fans and journalists alerted O’Gorman to “the articulation of what appears to be an alternative theology”.
To get the most out of this book you need to agree that “the task of theology is to identify how sport increasingly articulates its message and meaning in religious terms and interrogate the extent to which these are evidence of a misrepresentation of faith and its manipulation for mercantile and ideological purposes.”
O’Gorman warns that diagnoses that reduce religion to the status of sport render faith and theology redundant in society.
The writer is Irish, so there are many wonderful football references. He is also Catholic, adding an interesting perspective in the sections on spirituality and redemption.
Stephen Webb plays in a football team called Hand of God.
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