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Sport and Religion News

News Article: Evangelicalism & Brazil: The religious movement that spread through a national team (BBC, March 22, 2022)

“It was derby day in Belo Horizonte, but that wouldn’t change anything. Joao Leite believed he had a mission assigned to him by Jesus Christ: to spread God’s word among other football players. …”

News Article: Alpine skiing-Israel’s first winter Paralympian balances sport, religion (Reuters, March 13, 2022)

“Most athletes would never give up the chance to compete at an Olympic event they have spent years preparing for, but such is Sheyne Vaspi’s devotion to her faith that the Israeli skier chose religion over sport at the Beijing Winter Paralympics. …”

Research Article: A model for formulating the relationship between religion and sport performance: a grounded theory approach (Noh & Shadhan, 2021)

International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology

Abstract: The aim of this research was to formulate a model for understanding the relationship between religion and sport performance using a grounded theory approach. Using a purposive sampling method, 21 elite athletes (11 females, 10 males), aged 19–26 years (mean age = 23.14; SD = 2.03) were recruited to participate. Participants were from different sporting backgrounds such as archery (n = 2), athletics (n = 5), badminton (n = 7), diving (n = 2), soccer (n = 1), table tennis (n = 1), rugby (n = 1), softball (n = 1), and squash (n = 1). Participants identified their religion as Islam (n = 13), Buddhist (n = 5), Christian (n = 2), and Hindu (n = 1). The constant comparative method of data analysis with open, axial, and selective coding was used to generate the model. From the analysis, a Religion and Sport Performance (RSP) model identified three fundamental factors (religious practices, degrees of religious beliefs, and religious culture) and six contributing factors (coping strategy, religious support, psychological effects, performance outcomes, religious dietary practices, and mental health and healing). The fundamental and contributing factors in this research are significant influences on athletes’ lives and their sporting performances. The RSP model provides a foundational framework applicable to the design of intervention programmes to enhance sport performance and to help coaches or sport psychologists understand the critical role of religion in athletes’ lives.

News Article: Muslim athletes charter: Premier League clubs sign up to ‘first of its kind’ code

“When Paul Pogba recently removed a bottle of Heineken from the table at a news conference, it drew widespread attention.

Drinking, promoting or advertising alcohol is forbidden in Islam and as a devout Muslim, Pogba may have felt the need to distance himself from the situation, but should he have been put in that position in the first place?”

News Article: Touchdowns and transendence. How football makes a communal, sacred space

Columnist and former religion editor Ray Waddle reflects on college football’s meanings.

News Article: Pope Francis hosts NBA players to talk social justice

ESPN reported about this unprecedented event.

News Article: Stuck at Home With: LPGA lay chaplain Cris Stevens

Golfweek featured Cris Stevens work with the LPGA

Online Article: Our Need for Sports During the Pandemic is Far Deeper than just Entertainment

Terry Shoemaker, lecturer at Arizona State University in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, pondered the role of sport and religion in society during the COVID-19 pandemic

Research Article: A systematic review of religion/spirituality and sport: A psychological perspective

Noh, Y.-E., & Shahdan, S. (2020). A systematic review of religion/spirituality and sport: A psychological perspective. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 46.


  • Religious/spiritual beliefs (R/S) plays a vital role in enhancing sport performance.
    R/S contributes to athletes’ well-being.
  • R/S helps athletes to cope better when facing stressful situations.
  • R/S builds a trusting relationship between consultants and athletes.

Research Article: In praise of God: Sport as worship in the practice and self-understanding of elite athletes.

Ellis, R., & Weir, J. S. (2020). In praise of God: Sport as worship in the practice and self-understanding of elite athletes. Religions, 11(12), 677. doi:10.3390/rel11120677


The authors begin by considering the nature of Christian worship, examining worship as a phenomenon, key biblical and theological ideas, the relationship of worship to sacred places and times, and the relation of worship to everyday life. …The article suggests that, while the correspondence may not be complete or exact, there is good reason to take seriously the claims of elite athletes of faith that their sporting performance should be regarded as an act of worship.