Six-part documentary series focuses on 'religion' of sports

by Gregory Tomlin, |
Tim Tebow (C) joins teammates and Buffalo Bills players in a prayer following their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on September 9, 2012. Tebow was then quarterback for the team. He previously played for the Denver Broncos, and short stints with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles after. | REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – The world's largest telecommunications company, AT&T, is offering up a look into the spiritual devotion of the sports faithful who surrender their weekends to watch their mythic heroes – miracle workers – compete with super-human strength on the field.

Sporting News reports that the new six-part documentary series on the Audience Network, Religion of Sports, is the work of executive producers Tom Brady and Michael Strahan. Yes, that Tom Brady and that Michael Strahan.

Strahan, a near ubiquitous television personality and a former defensive end for the New York Giants, and Brady, the current quarterback for the New England Patriots, co-created the series along with Gotham Chopra, the son of Deepak Chopra – one of the strongest proponents of the New Age Movement.

Religion of Sports, however, is primarily not about real religion, but about feeling. It is about the feelings that arise in devoted fans as they watch sport spectacles from NASCAR, to the NFL and Major League Baseball, to UFC.

Brady said in an interview about the show that he knows the "religious high" sports can bring. He first felt it in 1982 while watching Dwight Clark's miracle catch – "THE catch" – of a Joe Montana pass at Candlestick Park. Brady learned to love that feeling and sought to replicate it in his own life.

"Now, playing on the same stage as my childhood idols, I'm fortunate to have a pretty unique perspective on football and the sports world," Brady told the sports news website. Brady has ascended to the pinnacle of this religion of sports – the Super Bowl – on six occasions.

"I can think of no better vehicle than Religion of Sports to share some of what I've learned and dig a little deeper into that feeling, the sort of spiritual experience that sports creates for players and fans alike," Brady said.

Strahan told the Associated Press he, too, was enamored with the emotional aspects of sports.

"You hear 'Religion of Sports,' and you say, 'OK, so sport is a religion?' Well, yeah, it really is. The temple is this arena or stadium. These athletes can be considered the gods in certain ways and the fans can be considered parishioners. So to be able to explore that and this spiritual connection between sports and life, that's what really piqued my interest," Strahan said.

Earlier this year, Christian Examiner reported that two professors at Presbyterian College, Drs. Michael Nelson and Terry Barr, were teaching a course on the religion of Southeast Conference (SEC) Football.

Students in the one-hour course from Nelson, a history professor who is an Arkansas Razorback fan, and Barr, an English professor who favors the Crimson Tide of Alabama, probed issues related to the near religious devotion football fans have for their teams. They "worship" the players and coaches, pray that their teams will win, and mourn when they lose.