Special Issue "Sport, Spirituality, and Religion: New Intersections"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Tracy J. Trothen
Website
Guest Editor
School of Religion and School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada
Interests: human enhancement ethics; Christianity; embodiment; sport; aging

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue invites submissions that address the intersection of sport and religion or sport and spirituality. In this issue, we want to identify and probe diverse contemporary questions concerning these intersections. Building on the established body of scholarly work addressing sport, spirituality, and religion, this collection will focus on current and emerging global issues.

Is kneeling during the anthem at NFL games a religious issue? Does it matter if someone experiences a religious or spiritual dimension in sport? What might be some implications for the practice of spiritual care? Is the sports venue ever an appropriate context for religious commitment displays? How might sports be civil religions: hockey in Canada, baseball in the United States, football in the UK or rugby in South Africa, and what is their function in current political climates? Is there a place for sport within formal religions? Why or why not? How might fan spirituality differ and intersect with player spirituality? How do we address fan violence? Doping and enhancement ethics are controversial in sport; how might these sports ethics issues intersect with religion and/or spirituality? How do religious dress issues intersect with sport? What about politics, economic and distributive justice, in relation to religion and sport? Spirituality has been linked to ecojustice and canoeing and whitewater rafting. Are there other connections between spirituality, ecojustice, and sport?

Religion and sport, as cultural expressions, intersect with sexism, gender stereotyping, racism, ableism, ageism, skill-level-ism, and other marginalizing dynamics. It is important to ask how sport currently reflects and informs systemic cultural values including the marginalization and stereotyping of groups. Regardless of the specifis issue you choose to address, you will want to consider how the intersection of sports, religion, and spirituality might generate despair, hope, and possibility.

Prof. Dr. Tracy J. Trothen
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sport
  • spirituality
  • religion
  • flow
  • justice
  • intersectionality

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Sport, Spirituality, and Religion: New Intersections
Religions 2019, 10(10), 545; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10100545 - 23 Sep 2019
Abstract
Sport, religion, and spirituality intersect in diverse ways. As the body of interdisciplinary scholarly work addressing these intersections increases, more questions and insights are being generated, as evidenced in this collection. Five themes that arise in this Special Issue of Religions are identified [...] Read more.
Sport, religion, and spirituality intersect in diverse ways. As the body of interdisciplinary scholarly work addressing these intersections increases, more questions and insights are being generated, as evidenced in this collection. Five themes that arise in this Special Issue of Religions are identified and explored. Examples from each article are used to develop these themes. To whet the reader’s appetite, thought-provoking reflections are offered in this introduction to “Sport, Spirituality, and Religion: New Intersections and Global Challenges.” Full article

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Safeguarding, Chaplaincy and English Professional Football
Religions 2019, 10(10), 543; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10100543 - 22 Sep 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
In recent years, English professional football has been rocked by allegations of historical sexual abuse and safeguarding concerns around young players. This paper examines the potential contribution that sports chaplains can make to the specific welfare needs of elite youth footballers within the [...] Read more.
In recent years, English professional football has been rocked by allegations of historical sexual abuse and safeguarding concerns around young players. This paper examines the potential contribution that sports chaplains can make to the specific welfare needs of elite youth footballers within the wider context of safeguarding practices and protocols. Comprising a small-scale, sociological study involving welfare personnel at English Premier League and English Football League Championship clubs, the paper identifies the scope and potential of sports chaplaincy in relation to the practical outworking of safeguarding policy. Findings reveal that elite youth footballers face a number of pressures specific to the highly competitive environment in which they work and that various safeguarding issues routinely arise amidst these pressures. The paper concludes by suggesting that sports chaplains are ideally placed to provide safeguarding and wider welfare support to young players as a consequence of their independence from team management structures and their prioritization of holistic care above performance-related issues. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Tracing the Landscape: Re-Enchantment, Play, and Spirituality in Parkour
Religions 2019, 10(9), 505; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10090505 - 28 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Parkour, along with “free-running”, is a relatively new but increasingly ubiquitous sport with possibilities for new configurations of ecology and spirituality in global urban contexts. Parkour differs significantly from traditional sports in its use of existing urban topography including walls, fences, and rooftops [...] Read more.
Parkour, along with “free-running”, is a relatively new but increasingly ubiquitous sport with possibilities for new configurations of ecology and spirituality in global urban contexts. Parkour differs significantly from traditional sports in its use of existing urban topography including walls, fences, and rooftops as an obstacle course/playground to be creatively navigated. Both parkour and “free-running”, in their haptic, intuitive exploration of the environment retrieve an enchanted notion of place with analogues in the religious language of pilgrimage. The parkour practitioner or traceur/traceuse exemplifies what Michael Atkinson terms “human reclamation”—a reclaiming of the body in space, and of the urban environment itself—which can be seen as a form of playful, creative spirituality based on “aligning the mind, body, and spirit within the environmental spaces at hand”. This study will subsequently examine parkour at the intersection of spirituality, phenomenology, and ecology in three ways: (1) As a returning of sport to a more “enchanted” ecological consciousness through poeisis and touch; (2) a recovery of the lost “play-element” in sport (Huizinga); and (3) a recovery of the human body attuned to our evolutionary past. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Redemption of ‘Fallen’ Hero-Athletes: Lance Armstrong, Isaiah, and Doing Good while Being Bad
Religions 2019, 10(8), 486; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10080486 - 19 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Lance Armstrong’s achievements in cycling will forever be overshadowed by his admittance of using unethical performance enhancing means to win. However, Armstrong’s positive social impact of raising awareness, hundreds of millions of dollars, and support for the cancer community are undeniably noteworthy. Clearly, [...] Read more.
Lance Armstrong’s achievements in cycling will forever be overshadowed by his admittance of using unethical performance enhancing means to win. However, Armstrong’s positive social impact of raising awareness, hundreds of millions of dollars, and support for the cancer community are undeniably noteworthy. Clearly, Armstrong’s hero-savior athlete depiction in the media prior to his ‘fall’ was related to the social ‘good’ he was equally known for. This good stands in stark contrast to his demonization since. This dichotomy of Armstrong’s profiling offers a unique opportunity to consider how his rise and fall reflect biblical themes of a sport celebrity. This paper explores the theme of redemption specifically presented in the book of Isaiah, as I explore Armstrong’s media rendering as a fallen hero-athlete following his public acknowledgement of cheating. This manuscript provides a contextual comparison of Armstrong’s story to the redemption of exiled Jews as detailed in Isaiah. Throughout the paper, I present how Armstrong has received a more profound, though less obvious or common redemption through his lifetime ban from sport. Ultimately, this article provides an analysis of a contemporary hero-athletes redemption who cycled for good, while being bad. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Sporting Space, Sacred Space: A Theology of Sporting Place
Religions 2019, 10(8), 473; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10080473 - 10 Aug 2019
Abstract
Religion often designates locations that are considered sacred, marked off from ordinary space. Sporting venues also take on a significance for players and supporters that is seldom adequately explained in solely sporting terms. Can theological understandings of place illuminate the way in which [...] Read more.
Religion often designates locations that are considered sacred, marked off from ordinary space. Sporting venues also take on a significance for players and supporters that is seldom adequately explained in solely sporting terms. Can theological understandings of place illuminate the way in which players and spectators relate to the ‘sacred space’ of their sporting endeavors? In this paper, I explore and assess the theological and religious significance of sporting space by reflecting upon descriptions of both religious and sporting special places. I use a range of types of descriptions of experiences of such spaces together with theological ideas and concepts, including Christian notions of incarnation, sacrament, and Trinity, which are found to be useful resources, undermining a strict binary of ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’ space. I then build upon previous theological and empirical work with sports participants to explore a theological understanding of special sporting places and the experiences of those who play and support sporting endeavors in them. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Pray the White Way: Religious Expression in the NFL in Black and White
Religions 2019, 10(8), 470; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10080470 - 06 Aug 2019
Abstract
Athletes, particularly players in the National Football League, have repeatedly invoked God in order to glorify, praise, or even credit the divine with success on the field. This essay examines the ways in which different types of religious language used to bring God [...] Read more.
Athletes, particularly players in the National Football League, have repeatedly invoked God in order to glorify, praise, or even credit the divine with success on the field. This essay examines the ways in which different types of religious language used to bring God onto the gridiron are received and evaluated along racial lines. I seek to show that speech by athletes, in particular black football players, that communicates a God who is partisan and intervenes in action on the field is routinely dismissed by fellow players, the media, and religious authorities who favor a God who either intervenes softly and generally or is above the game altogether. I contend that a double standard is applied to this theological debate due to a disregard of historical African American theology and to hegemonic white evangelical norms that police such discourse. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Affect Theory, Religion, and Sport
Religions 2019, 10(8), 457; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10080457 - 31 Jul 2019
Abstract
Affect theory has made important contributions recently to the study of religion, particularly drawing our attention away from ideas and practices to the emotional or affectual experience of religion. However, there is a danger that affect theory may become yet another “protective strategy” [...] Read more.
Affect theory has made important contributions recently to the study of religion, particularly drawing our attention away from ideas and practices to the emotional or affectual experience of religion. However, there is a danger that affect theory may become yet another “protective strategy” (to use a term from philosopher of religion Wayne Proudfoot) in academic wars about the nature of religion. As a consequence, there is a danger that affect theory will become too restrictive in its scope, limiting our ability to use it effectively in investigating “religious” or “spiritual” affects in otherwise secular practices and institutions (such as sport). If we can avoid turning affect theory into a protective strategy, it can become a useful tool to provide insights into the “spirituality” of sport. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Deconversion, Sport, and Rehabilitative Hope
Religions 2019, 10(5), 341; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050341 - 27 May 2019
Abstract
This article, based on qualitative interviews and ethnographic research, explores three types of on-the-ground rehabilitative hope supplied by sport for many post-evangelicals within the upper Bible Belt region traversing through the process of deconversion. First, sport is an often-cited space that is identified [...] Read more.
This article, based on qualitative interviews and ethnographic research, explores three types of on-the-ground rehabilitative hope supplied by sport for many post-evangelicals within the upper Bible Belt region traversing through the process of deconversion. First, sport is an often-cited space that is identified as broadening social networks, leading to initial questioning of inherited religiosity. Second, sport offers a level of amelioration of relational fissures caused by religious shifts away from evangelicalism. Last, this research indicates that post-evangelicals highly value spaces for discussions of social justice, and athletic activism offers symbolic solidarity. Thus, sport and deconversion can be intertwined for Southern post-evangelicals. In the end, I argue that the triangulation of deconversion, hope, and sport within a Southern context creates a way of understanding the changing Southern ethos and pathos demarcated by a shifting away from a conservative Protestantism historically dominant in the region. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Babe Ruth: Religious Icon
Religions 2019, 10(5), 337; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050337 - 23 May 2019
Abstract
Babe Ruth is a mythic figure in American baseball history. His extraordinary skills and legendary exploits are central to the idea of baseball as America’s national pastime and are woven into the fabric of American history and iconography. Much has been written about [...] Read more.
Babe Ruth is a mythic figure in American baseball history. His extraordinary skills and legendary exploits are central to the idea of baseball as America’s national pastime and are woven into the fabric of American history and iconography. Much has been written about Ruth’s life, his extraordinary physical powers, and the legends that grew up around him that made him a mythic figure. The story of Babe Ruth as it has been told, however, has not included its meaning from the perspective of the study of religion and sport. This paper explores the life and legends of Babe Ruth to illustrate the significance of Ruth’s identity as a Catholic in early twentieth-century America and the fundamental connections between Ruth’s story and the Christian myth and ritual that is foundational to American civil religion. Full article
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