Playing with God: Religion and Modern Sport (Google eBook)

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Harvard University Press, Jun 30, 2009 - Sports & Recreation - 336 pages
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The spectacle of modern sport displays all the latest commercial and technological innovations, yet age-old religious concerns still thrive at the stadium. Coaches lead pre-game and post-game prayers, athletes give God the credit for home runs and touchdowns, and fans wave signs with biblical quotations and allusions. Like no other nation on earth, Americans eagerly blend their religion and sports. "Playing with God" traces this dynamic relationship from the Puritan condemnation of games as sinful in the seventeenth century to the near deification of athletic contests in our own day.

Early religious opposition to competitive sport focused on the immoderate enthusiasm of players and spectators, the betting on scores, and the preference for playing field over church on Sunday. Disapproval gradually gave way to acceptance when "wholesome recreation" for young men in crowded cities and soldiers in faraway fields became a national priority. Protestants led in the readjustment of attitudes toward sport; Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and Muslims followed. The Irish at Notre Dame, outstanding Jews in baseball, Black Muslims in the boxing ring, and born-again athletes at Liberty University represent the numerous negotiations and compromises producing the unique American mixture of religion and sport.

  

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Playing with God: religion and modern sport

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Baker (history, emeritus, Univ. of Maine) has long specialized in sports. In this worthy addition to his works, he again considers sports in America, this time studying the mutual influence of sports ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
1 Old Gods and Games
6
2 The Road to Brawnville
23
3 Praying and Playing in the YMCA
42
4 Sweetening the Gospel with Sport
64
5 When Dixie Took a Different Stand
85
6 God and Country Games
108
7 For God the Gipper and the Green
129
9 Playing on the Fringe
171
10 Making a Pitch for Jesus
193
11 Athletes for Allah
218
12 Teammates and Soul Mates
240
13 Gods and Games Today
253
Notes
263
Acknowledgments
313
Index
315

8 Sunday Games
148

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About the author (2009)

William J. Baker is the professor emeritus of history at the University of Maine. He is the author of If Christ Came to the Olympics and other books.

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