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May 21, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Nothin’ But Net: Sporting Religion

Since I’m a nice, non-controversial guy I figured I’d write about a nice, non- controversial topic this week.

So here are my thoughts on sport and religion.

For those who dislike the two combining, it’s interesting that the former would be hard-pressed to thrive like it does without the latter.

Everton FC, for example, were founded by the St. Domingo’s Parish Church for their parishoners to play a winter sport: consistent with the idea at the time of using sport to teach young men responsibility and character building.

Current champions Manchester City were founded by the St. Mark’s Church as a communal charity organisation. Other big clubs like Aston Villa, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur have similar origins.

Of course, clubs like these grew and provided a model for clubs in other sports, which became a necessity for long-term survival as sports went professional.

What we see of religion in the sports world today is usually more of a personal thing. Michael Jones not playing on Sundays is an easy example, as is someone like Rory Fallon praising God after scoring.

Players like Javier Hernandez (Catholic) and Tim Tebow (Baptist) express their beliefs by praying before the game, and we also see things like messages on undershirts. Demba Ba (Muslim) runs to the corner and prays after scoring, which highlights the diversity we’re beginning to see with globalisation.

As a result, prayer rooms are slowly being introduced at clubs to promote cultures of acceptance and harmony irrespective of beliefs.

During the World Cup last year Fiji and Samoa prayed together after their game. No matter what you believe (or don’t believe), that kind of thing is really cool to see.

Provided it’s kept a harmless gesture, there’s nothing wrong with this kind of expression.

Naturally there are always exceptions: the muppets that take things too far. The Catholic-Protestant rivalry is still alive and kicking in Scotland, and is expressed in the hatred Rangers and Celtic have for each other.

This hatred is among the strongest in world football, and people often die during post- game incidents.

But more on that in two weeks’ time.

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