There are many important issues in public life right now, but for a large number of people in Scotland the future of football, the national game, is no small matter, says Simon Barrow. It is not just about sport, it is also about people, communities, hopes and dreams, culture and values. Put bluntly, who does (and who should) own a sport loved by hundreds of thousands? Whose interests are being served by the way it is presently being run?
As government becomes more technocratic and anonymous, and as recession and financial chaos makes people angry and suspicious towards the political class, the need to be seen to be “where people are” and to shape public mood through cultural activity large and small is here to stay, says Simon Barrow.
Sport is part of a cultural and economic system, but it does not have to be repressive, even though sometimes - not least from a gender perspective - it is, writes Colette Gilhooley. There are also interesting links to be made and observed between the discourses and practices of sport and religion.
Both Whole Life Sports and Women’s Centre are efforts to bring peace to the family and community and to collaborate with churches in healing social and societal wounds in Jamaica. Mark Beach reports from the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in the capital, Kingston.
The curious case of "King James" LeBron, US basketball player, has produced not just manufactured outrage over disloyalty, but a veritable religious marketplace of allegiances connecting fans, idols and saviours, says M. Cooper Harriss. It can be seen as a peculiarly modern American version of idolatry.
If watching football is a waste of time with redeeming moments, much the same could be said about prayer, says Simon Barrow. In a world over-attached to achievement, we lose sight of the fact that what is really 'worth it' is often not conventionally 'productive'.
A British university department dedicated to exploring the relationship between sport and spirituality has launched itself internationally by staging an inaugural conference for sports coaches, chaplains and administrators, as well as professional athletes and academics.