Any hope of becoming a regular blogger seems to recede into the horizon each time a few busy months come to pass and the next thing I know two months have passed since the last update. There still remains a glimmer of hope that I can uphold some semblance of regularity here. In any case, a quick run down of why it’s been such a hiatus:
I had my first doctoral class in May and I have subsequently been reading profusely on the topic of sports and religion – a burgeoning field I have come to find out. Worth special note are the recent publications from Mercer University Press’ Sports and Religion series. It seems hard to imagine writing on any topic of sports and religion and not referring to the dozen or so books released by Mercer. I ordered three or four of them to consult with and am most excited about the most recent release Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Sport. As I’ve been attempting to pare down my topic to a specific emphasis, I’ve been leaning towards the American spirit of competition and a theology of winning – this seems to be the perfect introduction. I should mention these books are far from flaky, sports study – the aforementioned recent release is nearly 400 pages long and contains more than 1,000 footnotes (interestingly they are numbered 1 – 1,000 rather than beginning anew each chapter – weird).
Anyway, in addition to this great resource, I have also come across the related International Journal of Religion and Sport which is published jointly through Mercer and Centre for the Study of Sport and Spirituality at York/St. John College of the University of Leeds. While the academic assessment of sports and religion appears to be burgeoning, more popular-level bridges between similar works and practical works are extremely rare. I hope to focus my attention, as stated above, to the American obsession with being number one, probably using a case study of the bowl system in college football versus the NCAA March Madness tournament of college basketball. The former case, I think I will argue, gets away from the obsession with who’s the best team in the country (though the invention of the BCS has brought us closer to that reality), and better appreciate sports for what they are – play. NCAA basketball, on the other hand, is a system built for a no-questions-asked #1 at the end of the tournament. From a Christian perspective, I wish to argue that the bowl system of college football is a system more reflective of sports as sabbath celebration rather than the college basketball system which more readily adopts the competitive framework of the surrounding culture.
This is a work in process and I’ve got about six weeks to pump this baby out. I am thoroughly enjoying the research in this area and have begun contemplating the possibility of setting my D. Min final project in this area. BUT . . . it’s early on . . . I’ll be heading back to Fuller the first week of November for a class with Alan Hirsch. With that added reading . . . I’ve got some work to do!