Sport and Spirituality: An Introduction

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Sport science can quantify many aspects of human performance but the spiritual dimensions of sports experience cannot be fully understood through measurement. However, the spiritual experience of sport – be it described as ‘flow’, ‘transcendence’ or the discovery of meaning and value – is central both to our basic motivation to take part in sports, and to achieving success.

Sport and Spirituality: An Introduction explores these human aspects of sports experience through the perspectives of sport psychology, philosophy, ethics, theology and religious studies. It includes discussions of:

  • Spirituality in the postmodern era
  • Spirituality, health and well-being
  • Theistic and atheistic perspectives on sport and the spiritual
  • Nature and transcendence – the mystical and sublime in outdoor sport
  • Applied sport psychology and the existential
  • Spiritual perspectives on pain, suffering and destiny
  • Sport, the virtues, ethical development and the spirit of the game
  • The Olympic Games and de Coubertin’s ideas of the ‘religio athletae’.

This groundbreaking text will be a valuable resource for students of sport and exercise studies, sports coaching, physical education and sport and health psychology. This book should be read by all those interested in the preparation, performance and well-being of athletes.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is a book most notable for the broad range of ideas it offers, featuring sports psychology, sports sociology, and professional and religious ethics. The author's attempts to define 'spirituality,' within the context of sport and beyond, are especially appealing."Christianity Today, February 2010

“This is clearly an important work … and complements previous books on the topic such as Herrigel’s Zen in the Art of Archery, Hoffman’s Sport and Religion, and Novak’s The Joy of Sports. One of the strengths is that the authors write from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. While this is not a standard philosophy text, readers from a more traditionally philosophic background will benefit from the insights of colleagues in other disciplines …The publisher describes the book as a theology and religious studies text, and by all accounts this seems an accurate portrayal. The themes go beyond just those interested in theology and religion however. Individuals seeking an interdisciplinary understanding of sport and spirituality would certainly be interested in and benefit from this work, from undergraduates to researchers. In terms of pedagogical usage, each chapter concludes with a series of study questions which could lend to meaningful class discussions or writing assignments.” – Professor Douglas Hochstetler, Journal of the Philosophy of Sport

“The text is introductory, and helpfully so, in that it shows clearly that sport is well worth considering at the deepest levels; in providing some specific ‘case studies’ it illustrates this importance very well … The referencing is very good and the bibliography is comprehensive, so there are plenty of guideposts for further exploration. Not a book for the ordinary sportsperson or fan but for the sportsperson or fan who happens to be a pastor or theologian.” – Professor Drew Gibson, Practical Theology

“This book was launched at the first international conference on Sport and Spirituality at York St. John University on 28–31 August 2007 … It is evidence of a new field of scholarship and research emerging … This book of varied contributions could have fallen apart, but in fact it coheres well … The publisher claims that it should be read by ‘all those interested in the preparation, performance and well-being of athletes’. I agree with that, but would commend it to journalists, politicians, managers and many others who are involved in, contribute to and reflect the philosophy and management of all sport, and not just for the elite. It will challenge their values and they will not have to believe in a deity to benefit from it, though benefit they will too, if they do so.” – Professor, Mike Collins, Leisure Studies

“Sport and Spirituality is a text both unique and excellent, a wide-ranging, ground-breaking study with potential for of creating paradigm shifts not only in sport and spirituality but education as well.” – Professor Robert (Jack) Higgs, Arete: Journal of Sports Literature

“Among the proclaimed strengths of the book are its broad range of perspectives and the diverse disciplinary backgrounds of its authors. Their collective academic specialisms include sports psychology, sports sociology, and professional and religious ethics. If there was ever a group of scholars in the UK who were well placed to produce such a text, this is it … The text is sectioned according to four main themes: (i) Sport and Spirituality; (ii) Religion and Sport; (iii) Existential Psychology and Sport; and (iv) Ethics, Olympism and Spirituality. Each section comprises three chapters … This book is, without doubt, an excellent addition to the sports studies literature. It is insightful, well thought-out, and well put together … the authors … should be congratulated … on producing a thought-provoking book that will, no doubt, prove extremely useful to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, and indeed to fellow academics. Verdict: A much needed text. Definitely worth a read.” – Professor Andrew Parker, Managing Leisure

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415404839
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 10/11/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Parry is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Leeds University. He is former Head of the School of Philosophy at Leeds University and is co-series editor for the Routledge series Ethics and Sport.

Simon Robinson is Professor of Applied and Professional Ethics, Leeds Metropolitan University. He is also Hon. Fellow in Theology at the University of Leeds. Simon Robinson is former Anglican Chaplain to the University of Leeds.

Nick Watson is Lecturer and Researcher in the School of Sports Science and Psychology, York St John College of the University of Leeds.

Dr Mark Nesti is Reader in Sport Psychology at York St John College of the University of Leeds.

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Table of Contents

Section 1: Spirituality and Sport 1. A Short History of Spirituality 2. Defining Spirituality 3. Spirituality, Wellbeing and Sport Section 2 : Sport, God and Ethics 4. The Religious and the Spiritual in Sport. A Comparative Analysis of Meaning for Theistic and Atheist Participants 5. Theology and the Ethics of Competition in the Twenty -First Century 6. Nature and Transcendence. the Mystical and Sublime in Outdoor Sports Section 3: The Existential and Sport 7. The Existential and the Spiritual 8. Persons and Players 9. Suffering and Destiny Section 4: Olympism and Sport 10. Sport and the Virtues 11. Peace and the Religious Athlete 12. Ethos, Ethics and Education Conclusion

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