Faith on the field: a cultural analysis of sports ministry in America Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Blakeney-Glazer, Annie Laurie
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Religious Studies
  • Recognizing that sport carries a great deal of cultural significance in the United States and the world, evangelical Christians have been forming organizations that combine sport and Christianity for evangelism since the 1950s. At first, this movement focused primarily on men and on celebrity athletes. However, since the mid-1980s, women have surpassed men as the largest population involved in sports ministry, evidencing a significant shift in the movement to address athletes with limited celebrity potential. My dissertation treats sports ministry as more complicated than a simple tool for evangelism. Its growing presence in the United States cannot solely be explained by Americans' hero-worship of sports stars. More than just an evangelical platform, sports ministry organizations produce knowledge about what it means to be a Christian athlete, and this information is distributed to tens of thousands of athletes in the United States and the world over. Ultimately I argue that Christian athletes are able to use their embodied athletic experiences (like athletic pleasure and athletic pain) and the structures of sport (like gender distinctions, hierarchies of authority, explicit rules, and dualistic understandings) to affirm beliefs. As such, sports ministry's key function is not outreach to the non-believer, but affirmation of the saved through the production of embodied certainty of religious knowledge.
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  • Styers, Randall
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