Religion and the Rise of Sport in England
- ISBN: 9780192859983
- Published By: Oxford University Press
- Published: February 2023
Both religion and sport stir deep emotions, shape identities, and inspire powerful loyalties. They have sometimes been in competition for people's resources of time and money, but can also be mutually supportive.
We live in a world where sport seems to be everywhere. Not only is there saturation media coverage but governments extol the benefits of sport for nation and individual, and in 2019 the Church of England appointed a Bishop for Sport. The religious world has not always looked so kindly on sport. In the early nineteenth century, Evangelical Christians led campaigns to ban sports deemed cruel, brutal or disorderly. But from the 1850s Christian and other religious leaders turned from attacking 'bad' sports to promoting 'good' ones. The pace of change accelerated in the 1960s, as commercialization of sport intensified and Sunday sport became established, while the world of religion was transformed by increasing secularization, a resurgent Evangelicalism, and the growth of a multi-faith society.
This is the first book to tell this story, and while its principal focus is on Christianity, there is additional coverage of Judaism and Islam, as there is of those - from Victorian sporting gentry to present-day football fans and marathon runners - for whom sport is itself a religion.