Sports are a type of religion

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Writer

I’m going to say something that might sound controversial.

If I had World Series tickets and the game was on a Sunday, I most likely would be whispering “Our Fathers” from the third base line. I mean, I was sitting in a pew at the beginning of mass with my phone in my hand, watching as the Baylor baseball team won the Big 12 Championship tournament for the first time ever. If I had to choose between baseball and something else, even church, there is a high probability that I would choose baseball.

I know I wouldn’t be the only one.

It’s not a secret that sports have become a religion of their own. Athletes have become icons. Stadiums have become churches. The experience of watching a member of your home team perform a brilliant play against their opponent has become nothing short of divine.

Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist of the late nineteenth century, defined religion as “a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things.” Durkheim believed that religion is what kept society together. The rituals, rites and symbols that define particular religions are part of what holds the participants of those groups together.

There are elements in sports games that emit a level of sacredness, like the seventh inning stretch, retiring the jersey numbers of a valued team member or not mentioning that a no-hitter is in progress. Here at Baylor specifically, we end most of our sports events by singing “That Good Ole Baylor Line.”

What is sacred is defined by Durkheim as something that is treated as extraordinary or something that gives feelings of awe or reverence. In contrast, he defines something profane as something being made mundane or ordinary.

When I step into Baylor Ballpark, I get a feeling of peace that I can’t really compare to anything. When I witness an incredible play, I can’t help but feel awe. When my team is down to their last out, I pray they can execute it, whether they are up to bat or on defense.

I know I’m not the only one who views sports in this fashion. Even Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots, sees the relation between the two. Brady, along with Michael Strahan and filmmaker Gotham Chopra, were the executive producers of a docuseries titled “Religion of Sports,” which explores the “transcendent power of sports” all around the world. It shows how the sports industry has influenced society on such a deep level.

It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you practice, what language you speak, what political party you support or how you look. Sports unite us, and sometimes divide us, in a similar way that religion does.

The point is, it doesn’t matter how you define religion. We all need something to believe in and to hold us together, especially when the rest of the world seems to be falling apart.