Religion and Sports

Lacrosse sticks photo by rwkvisual

REL 103 is offered by Syracuse University (3 credits)

It would be more accurate to call this class “Religion AS Sports,”or “Sports AS Religion.” Nearly all sports have their origins in religious ceremonies. Olympic Games, hockey, sumo wrestling, and the martial arts are obvious examples, but also more popular games like football, basketball, soccer, and golf connect directly with ancient ceremonial practices. This class focuses on the most important local example of this with the Haudenosaunee (i.e., Iroquois) game of lacrosse. Even more important than their ceremonial history, however, sports are currently understood by enthusiasts and critics alike as a “religious activity.” The course will take the perspective that it is clearer to understand the current popularity and appeal of sports (including games of all types) as ceremonial activities rather than as business or entertainment activities.

arnold-phillipPhil Arnold is associate professor of religion in the College of Arts and Sciences. He specializes in Native American traditions of the Americas with special emphasis on contact between Europeans and pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations and Iroquois traditions. His work in Nahuatl texts and archaeological materials from central Mexico has focused on connections between indigenous rituals and their material world.