What are the ways in which sport and spirituality can be related to one another?

  1. Part 1: In your opinion, can sports help bring about higher spiritual awareness? Why or why not?
  2. Explain Watson’s assessment of the above question in “Nature and Transcendence: The Mystical and Sublime in Extreme Sports” (available on BlackBoard). Do you agree or disagree with his response. Why or why not?
  3. Part 2: In your opinion, can spiritual practices lead to greater performance in sporting endeavors?
  4. What kind of examples can be used to support your claim?

Sports and Spirituality have always had a very long correlation with one another, impacting the individuals who use sports and spirituality together in a beneficial way, while some may argue that the results are not always beneficial. However, one way that sports and spirituality can be related to one another is through the means of delivering personal meaning to the said individuals. This feeling of personal meaning is one that is not found in many other practices. In the relevance of sports, personal meaning is found by an individual when he is playing a particular sports. This often occurs when the player is focusing on his game, and as he improves his game, his personal meaning develops and he becomes better and better at what he does. Similarly, when it comes to religion, personal meaning transforms in an individual when the individual decides to communicate with his fellow religious colleagues and when he tries to come into contact with the divine, being the entity or force that allows the followers to seldom grace it and understand it to its depth. In this manner, both sports and spirituality seem to be similar.

Another manner through which sports and spirituality seem to be similar is the fact that acquiring in depth understanding of sports or spirituality allows an individual to feel better about himself, experience more peace of mind than he may have ever had, and understand as to how life works and what their ulterior purpose may have been all along. Such sense of righteousness and self-esteem is only brought out in an individual when he is practicing sports or spirituality. Hence, this is another similarity that is often not noted.

Watson believes that sports and spirituality have a few things in common. He assesses that one of these similarities is the fact that both sports and spirituality allow a person to become motivated when he uses religion in them. Hence, Watson asserts that religion is the most dominant similarity that exists between sports and spirituality. I agree with this response simply because Watson is telling the honest truth. As discussed above, I mentioned two similarities of personal meaning and higher motivation being part of both sports and spirituality. However, both the elements of personal meaning and higher motivation are also present in religion. In fact, religion promotes personal meaning for individuals while higher motivation is also achieved by individuals when they begin to undertake religious rituals or other acts to show their faith and beliefs. In this manner, it becomes clear as to what Watson is talking about and how relatively accurate he is in terms of his direction and point of view.

In my point of view, I most definitely believe that spiritual practices lead to greater performances by athletes and players in sporting endeavors. There are a number of examples and reasons as to why I believe this is the case. The first reason is the fact that by committing a spiritual practice, an athlete feels more close to his divine than he would normally feel, allowing him tog ather more concentration and motivation regarding the game he is playing. In doing so, this allows the athlete to have a sudden boost of confidence, which also allows the athlete to indulge in playing a better game and providing a greater overall performance. For example, an athlete is more likely to play better when he has faith in a religion, as he believes and hopes that his prayers and beliefs will provide him with a better outcome in the game.

Another reason why undertaking spiritual practices allows the athlete to have a greater performance in his sporting endeavors is the fact that spiritual practices allow athletes to have a better sense of being and peace of mind. This also allows the players to feel more motivated as they believe that they have communicated with their divine, or God in their religious belief. This effects the morale of the athlete and enhances it in such a way that a player is bound to play a better game. For example, Watson also note that when a player prays to his specific God in his religion, the player gains a more motivational boost, which allows the player to have a better overall game.

We discussed one main challenge in sports is that there is always a winner which necessitates a loser. This “zero sum” approach of sports is sometimes criticized for its inherently competitive nature. Cooper addresses some of this tension between “art” and “war” while other authors have addressed the tension between “pride” and “humility.”