Playing with God: Religion and Modern Sport

Product Details
Harvard University Press
Publish Date
6.52 X 9.32 X 1.16 inches | 1.39 pounds
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About the Author
William J. Baker is a senior research leader at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He coauthored the second edition of Genera Palmarum, also published by Kew, and coedits PALMS, the journal of the International Palm Society.
That old quarterback Bill Baker, once the passing preacher, plays with the old question, Is sports America's true religion?, then scores with this readable and fascinating study of their interlocking history.--Robert Lipsyte, former New York Times sports columnist
William Baker's Playing with God is a natural. Baker reveals the countless ways that religious ideas infuse sports, and the complex ways that sports resemble religion. Along the way he tells great stories, and unearths a range of beliefs and practices across time and faiths. This is a fascinating history.--Elliott Gorn, author of A Brief History of American Sports
Playing with God is sprightly, humorous, fast-paced, and judicious. No other book on modern religion and sport is as expansive, well-researched, or satisfying. Yet another touchdown by a former college quarterback!--Benjamin G. Rader, author of American Sports: From the Age of Folk Games to the Age of Televised Sports
Playing with God surveys the complex and dynamic relationship between sport and religion throughout American history, with a keen eye for the shifting dynamics between these two staples of American life. This is a superb book that invites us to consider even more carefully the relationship between play and piety.--Randall Balmer, Barnard College, Columbia University
In his carefully researched, beautifully written Playing with God, Bill Baker demonstrates that athletes and ministers have long worked together, and that the idea of sport as a civic religion is far from being an accident or a turn of phrase.--Randy Roberts, author of The Rock, the Curse, and the Hub: A Random History of Boston Sports
Baker has long specialized in sports. In this worthy addition to his works, he again considers sports in America, this time studying the mutual influence of sports and religion...Well written and highly informative.--James F. DeRoche "Library Journal" (5/1/2007 12:00:00 AM)
Baker takes the reader on a fascinating and informative trek through the history of the intimacy between religion and sports in America, and he even includes a chapter on Athletes for Allah.--Mitch Finley "Catholic News Service" (4/27/2007 12:00:00 AM)
It is the best presentation of this interplay [between sports and religion] published to date...This book is must reading for anyone interested in sports and religion.--G. H. Shriver "Choice" (11/1/2007 12:00:00 AM)
A valuable story about the engagement of religion with sports. [Baker] focuses on U.S. history from the time of the Puritans to the present day, pausing at times to delve deeply into the stories of a few prominent figures, such as Knute Rockne, the tough-as-nails football coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and a convert to Catholicism. As a historian and researcher, Baker is exceptional, and his writing is fluid and energetic.--David Nantais "Christian Century" (1/15/2008 12:00:00 AM)