Umoja Outreach Foundation

Relationship Between Sport and Religion

The relationship between sport and religion has dated back to the earliest civilizations and has continued to evolve as society has developed into the modern civilization that we now live in. The ways in which sport structures beliefs, values and behaviors is often compared to the ways in which religion teaches important values and lessons. In fact, the message that both religion and sport teach us are similar, using symbols to communicate important values and lessons.There is much historical evidence that points to the strong relationship between sport and religion. This relationship is best understood as multi-dimensional, meaning it can be thought of in several different aspects. One way it can be understood is the usage of sport as a religious ritual. Before the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century, the Aztec and Mayan civilizations often used sport as a religious ritual to honor the gods. The Mayans practiced ball games within the temple complex and provided a conquering ruler with the means to validate his reign in the eyes of the gods. Later, the Ancient Greeks would hold four great games – the Olympian, the Pythian, the Isthmian and the Nemean – all associated with the worship of gods and held in sites of religious rituals. As athletes excelled in sport, they were sometimes even accorded the status of ‘god’. In modern times, athletes are no longer seen as gods per se, but are still highly revered as the epitome of discipline, determination, and dedication.

Even when sport is not a part of religious ritual, it can be metaphorically linked to religion as a symbol of strife and setting elusive goals for life. In Islam, Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) often encouraged Muslims to practice sport such as equestrian, swimming and wrestling to maintain our body health, strengthen the body for when needed and engage in activities that bring enjoyment and relaxation. Such activities ultimately bring balance which leads to a sense of fulfillment in one’s life.

This is why at Umoja we promote the message of life long participation. We welcome all ages from toddlers to adults to engage with the community and participate in keeping our bodies healthy, able and balanced. Join us this July 1st to 3rd in Richmond, Virginia to meet your Muslim brothers and sisters from all over the world and make life long memories. If you do not have a team that doesn’t mean you cannot play! Let us match you with a team and experience the tournament of the year!

We are eager to see you in Richmond!