A new documentary series will acknowledge what millions of football, soccer, and baseball fans have known for years — the love of sports can be a religion.
“Religion of Sports” is produced by former Super Bowl rivals Tom Brady and Michael Strahan, along with director Gotham Chopra, the son of spirituality guru Deepak Chopra. Its six hour-long episodes will air beginning Nov. 15 on the Audience Network.
“Psychologists are closing in on the conclusion that sport has many of the same effects on spectators as religion does.”
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The new series will examine Scottish soccer club rivalries, passions inspired by NASCAR racers, fans of minor league baseball, the rise of e-sports, and a popular Canadian rodeo.
“You hear ‘Religion of Sports,’ and you say, ‘OK, so sport is a religion?'” said Strahan, who recently began co-hosting ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “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.”
Chopra likens the new series to “This American Life,” the popular and long-running NPR radio storytelling series hosted by Ira Glass.
“It’s stories about why sports gives people purpose, meaning, and significance — whether you’re an athlete, fan, or person that works within sports,” he told The Associated Press. “It’s very much character-driven. The backdrop happens to be sports.”
The link between sports and religion has long been recognized by everyone from serious academics to rabid fans. In 2009, the magazine Psychology Today reported: “Psychologists are closing in on the conclusion that sport has many of the same effects on spectators as religion does.”
This article originally appeared in Religion News Service.