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Sports vs. Religion 8

An interesting debate came up at a family dinner the other week. The question arose when I made a tongue in cheek comment about Pentecostal churches where the worshipers put their hands in the air and pray out loud. I once attended a Pentecostal church with my Opa and let’s just say I was a bit freaked out by the “outspoken” nature of the worshipping. People were expressing emotions physically to the point where some of them were actually dripping with sweat from clenching their fists and holding their hands in the air and yelling to the heavens as if their bodies are being overcome.

Anyway, that sort of expression really scares me. The question that came up is why is it okay for people to put their hands in the air to cheer for a sports team and get into a hockey game or a baseball game, but it’s not okay to do it at Church.

After this question came up there were so many things going through my head. The first thing that came to mind was that when I’m at a hockey game, and I’m cheering for the visiting team, I might get some beer spilled on me, but I’m not fearing for my life. If I was in that church, and if I was a Jew or a Muslim or a stripper or anything other than a devoted Christian, I’d be very scared of what somebody might do to me because their beliefs may differ from my beliefs.

Sports promote comradery, friendship, teamwork, quick thinking, physical fitness, and many other things. I have never seen sports create a division the way religion has. It it appalling to me that people can have so much resentment towards another person simply because of their religion. I’m not a Montreal Canadien’s fan, but I don’t have hatred for people who cheer for the Montreal Canadiens.

So to be fair, religion does promote ethical behaviour; sports, possibly not so much. But when kids are growing up, sports keeps them out of trouble and out of gangs and keeps them healthy. Most of the kids that were ultra religious in elementary school went on to do some crazy crazy illicit things in high school and college. Don’t raise your kids in a closet, because some day they won’t be able to handle the real world.

8 thoughts on “Sports vs. Religion

  1. Anonymous Dec 13,2006 12:51 pm

    I am not disagreeing with what you said,I am just pointing out to you (I’m sure you know)that a very large number of superstar athletes are deeply devoted Christians.I just read an article about Dewayne Wade of the Miami Heat.He is Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year.He is a good example of a Christian athlete.


  2. Crankyputz Dec 13,2006 3:20 pm


    I think I agree with Nitzche’s assessment that religion and sports have a lot in common, and opperate in the same way. In the end if you buy into your religion/sport, every one not on your team is the enemy. In terms of your experience of being freaked out by the singing and carrying on at the church, I bet if you had grown up in that enviornment you would not find it as strange. You’ve grown up with sports and don’t find all the hollering strange. It’s all what your used to.

  3. Anonymous Dec 13,2006 6:43 pm

    Hi Jeem.
    I am Parichat from Thailand who you accepted as friend in My nickname is Jim, too!

  4. Anonymous Dec 13,2006 7:20 pm

    Jim, All organized gatherings, including organized sports, religion, or concerts, get people, if

    they are in a certain frame of mind, to exhibit frenzied behaviour. Root cause: mob mentality or

    group think. All of these, not only sports promote comraderie ,friendship, teamwork, etc.
    Have you ever seen/heard of a riot break out in a church service or after a church service? Your feeling hypothetically “scared” if you were from another reilgion is also highly subjective: fear often stems from unfamiliarity with the environment, otherwise known as ignorance. It could happen to a Christian in a Jewish or Muslim environment as well.

    The truth is, it’s not really about religion or sports or concerts. It’s about the human nature of

    group think. It’s the ability for small numbers of people to (slowly or quickly) influence and sway

    large groups of people with postive or negative energy.

    Sports fighting:

    Concert/Club fighting:

    Religious fighting:

  5. Jim Dec 14,2006 5:04 pm


    I agree, sports and religion do have a lot in common. Both have a sense of belonging. This article was a result of seeing scores of people dying each day because of their religion and unacceptance of other religions in their society. It is unfair though for me to compare countries that are engaged in a civil war over religion to people who countries where religion is practised peacefully.

  6. sis Dec 14,2006 7:13 pm

    I think you’re going overboard now!! Although you’ve admitted to being unfair, I have a few thoughts. I know that you didn’t fear for your life in that church, and you are not a devout Christian. (what would be the difference between your beliefs and Jewish beliefs in a church) I also don’t think you can compare extremist religion to a church in a small town…your comments are very broad and generalized. There are a lot of very religious people in your family/workplace who don’t hate you or me because we are NOT religious, and I know a lot of people who did crazy and illicit things in high school and college who were not religious.

    I was wondering how long it would be before that conversation came up on the blog! 😉

  7. Jim Dec 16,2006 5:44 pm

    PS: To give this posting some additional context, the night I wrote it I was reading about the 15-year Lebanon civil war between the Muslims and the Christian Maronites that ended in 1990. With Lebanon being on the verge of falling back into civil war as a result of the Iraq war, it is unfathomable to me how there can be so much tension between these religious groups simply because of their religion and because each religion wants to have more power in the country.

  8. Anonymous Jan 18,2007 8:16 pm

    Did you know that religion is sometimes a guise for bigger/deeper issues? Polical leaders often pit people against one another by painting the sides simplisticly between one religion and another. Look at most wars between any supposed ethnic group or religion or inter-religious sect and you will find that they all have one thing in common: a fight for power and control of RESOURCES. Power and greed is the history of mankind – regardless of whether it is Christians vs. Muslims, Catholic vs. Protestant, Europeans vs. Africans, developed countries vs. developing countries. That is the root cause.

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