Sport has a huge following in modern society, events on and off the field generating intense emotional excitement all round. Corporate sponsorship of individuals and teams pours vast amounts of money into advertising on the pitch, in print and through television. Borrowing the language of religion, the media hyping of sport holds up its stadia as cathedrals, its stars as saviours and icons, and heralds its successes as redemption. It is not surprising that some see this part of popular culture as a new religion.
There is long tradition of theology adopting and analysing sport. Saint Paul used it as a metaphor for the Christian journey, while Pope John Paul II understood sport as contributing to human excellence and solidarity.
The general loss of a sense of the sacred leads to the question of whether sport is now becoming a substitute for spirituality. Saving Sport explores key questions about the experience of sport, and its expression by the media, in the conversation between church and society on faith and culture.
A native of Tipperary Town, Fr Kevin O’Gorman is a priest of the Society of African Missions (SMA) with twenty years of experience in theological education in seminaries and colleges in South Africa and Ireland. He is a lecturer in moral theology at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. He is the author of Saving Sport: Sport, Society and Spirituality (Columba Press) and Lent and Holy Week: Journeying with the Joy of the Gospel (St Pauls Publishing).