Sports and Religion



Sportsand Religion

TheOlympic games are esteemed highly in the sports history and haveclaimed a position of honor in the history of organized sportingevents. Olympics was established as a result of the formulatedphilosophy of Olympism, which places sport at the service ofhumanity. Olympism is expressed through actions which connect sportto culture and education.

Thefundamental principles of Olympism create three core values uponwhich Olympics is founded. These values are Excellence, Friendship,and Respect. These values and meaning of the Olympics are expressedby the Olympic symbols, which comprises the five rings and the otheridentifying features, namely, the flame, the torch relay, the motto,the anthem, the maxim and the oaths. These features convey theOlympic message directly and precisely and accord the Olympicmovement a sense of identity.

Onthe other hand, the appreciation of Superbowl in America is intense,to the extent some people regard it as a symbol of patriotism inAmerica, just like reading the Declaration of Independence. Americansbestow such degree of value on the game. Most Americans’ want toidentify with Superbowl throughout the spheres. In the businesscommunity, the recognition of the game translates to monetarybenefits. Even in sports, people want to identify the names of clubswith Superbowl. For instance, there is a Superbowl advertisementgamble that interests the Multimillion-dollar companies in America toregister their participation. They invest large sums of money in thisventure only to win the prestige that comes with the identificationwith Superbowl.

TheOlympic games were formed by the Greeks. It developed from theideology of physical fitness and the mental discipline, which theybelieved excellence in those aspects gave honor to Zeus who was thegreatest of their gods. In the modern games, the element ofexcellence in physical fitness and mind discipline is still muchvalued.

Itis documented that Nazi abused the spirit of Olympism in promotingtheir agenda, through creating an image of a new, strong, and unitedGermany, while advancing the racist policies and the military rule.The Nazis tried portraying a picture of peace through spreading thepeace propaganda when the world was already informed of theirpersecution of Jews (&quotNazi games: the Olympics of 1936,&quot2008). Even today such forums like the Olympics have been used topropagate propaganda and spread hateful and racist ideologies.


Nazigames: the Olympics of 1936. (2008). ChoiceReviews Online,45(09),45-5059-45-5059.

Sportsand Religion

It would be correct to refer sports as religion. Most of the sportstrace their origin in religion. Martial arts, Olympic Games, andHockey are obvious examples. In addition, other popular sports suchas Soccer, Basketball, and Football relate directly to ancientreligious ceremonial activities (Brahinsky, 2012). This paper willexplain sports as a religious activity.

Hierophanyin Relation to Sports

Hierophany can be referred to the use of symbols in sports. Certainthings such as the moon and the sun are more predisposed to behierophanies than others. Hierophanies can be anything and foundanywhere. For example, before the life and death of Jesus, it wasunlikely that any Jew could believe that a wooden cross used topunish criminals would become a hierophany (Brahinsky, 2012). Thefact that sport is religious and the college football is sacredproves that they are symbols surrounding the fans. The distinctivealphabets used in naming football teams are symbols. For example, theathletic team of Tennessee is represented by letter “T.” in thiscase letter “T” is not a sign but rather a symbol of power.


The sports ground is referred to as a holy ground. In most games ifnot all, the players and fans start by praying. Other games such aslacrosse were played by Native Americans for healing and peace in thesacred sports ground (Brahinsky, 2012). Sports bring interculturaldifferent fans together in the sacred grounds.


Sports offer a platform for the exchange of gifts such as trophies asrewards (Brahinsky, 2012). In religion, gifts are offered asofferings. Trophies in sport are not sold but rather, they areawarded the best team.

Thisexplains that sport competition is based on gift exchange culture.Gift economy has contributed a big deal to the success of sportinggames.


Thecreation of heroes and heroines in sports provide a dimension ofcultural exchange in sports. Exchange of jerseys among players is aceremonial exchange. This is usually a sign of respect among theplayers (Brahinsky, 2012). Cheering by the fans also transforms sportto a religion. Cheering and praising are present in religion. Thisdiscussion affirms sport as a ceremonial exchange.


Brahinsky, J. (2012). Pentecostal body logics: Cultivating a modernsensorium. Cultural Anthropology, 27(2), 215-238.