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Why do some people say that Sport is like a Religion?

When people talk about religion they aren't only referring to major religions like Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism. These are all examples of religions, but religious systems come in a huge range of forms. So, when academics try to think about all of these various ideas together they think about what they have in common. 

People often say that some of the things these religious ideas have in common that makes them a religion is that they involve rituals, sacred spaces and commitment to a particular religion or idea. 

When we think about sport, there are some elements of it that are similar to the above ideas about religion. 

Rituals: Many football supporters go to football games regularly and have a particular pattern of behaviour when they do this - they might always eat the same thing and sing the same songs, for example - this is a bit a like going to church on a regular basis in terms of singing hymns and taking communion on a regular basis.

Sacred spaces: In Christianity, Judaism and Islam, people regularly visit a particular place to think about and practise their religion - whether that is a church, a synagogue or a mosque. In football, it can be said that a stadium or a home ground is like this. It is a place where people go to participate in their group activity - either religion or sport - and to cement the ideas of that group within their lives and themselves. 

Commitment: A commmon feature of religions is that they are usually exclusive - a person is a member of one religion not many. Similarly, people often support one particular sports team, not many, and remain committed to them whether they do well or not. 

Although sport and religion are simliar in these ways, it is important to remember that what is often considered the defining feature of religions is that they are concerned with cosmology (how the universe is) and/or with the supernatural (a god, several gods, ancestor spirits, etc). In sport, this isn't obviuosly the case. Many people that go to football games may have views about cosmology and the supernatural, but those views aren't usually given by the sport itself. They are indepent of it. 

Evie H. GCSE English Literature tutor, GCSE Geography tutor, A Level ...

6 months ago

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Caitlin C.

Degree: History and Politics (Bachelors) - Lancaster University

Subjects offered:Religious Studies, Philosophy and Ethics+ 4 more

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Tabitha S.

Degree: Theology and Religion (Bachelors) - Oxford, Oriel College University

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Degree: Religious Studies PGCE (Other) - Kings, London University

Subjects offered:Religious Studies, Philosophy

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Evie H.

Degree: Theology (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered:Religious Studies, Geography

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“About Me:  I am at Durham University, studying Theology and Religion. I study ethics, philosophy of religion, biblical studies, Christian theology and South Asian studies, so I am ready and waiting to help withall things religion-rela...”

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