Religion vs Sports

Posted December 28 2016

                                                   Religion vs Sports

 You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita.” - Swami Vivekananda

Yes, you heard it right! There is a competition between religion and sports. There are so many times the playgrounds for children have been converted to temple, mosque or church. I have heard so many stories from my friends about how their cricket playground were used by adults to build a religious monument. While the younger generation wants to devote more time to play sports, the older generation spend more time doing religious activities. It doesn’t mean that the younger generation have less faith or are more scientific. The truth is religion and sports are not so different. Indeed, psychologists claim that sport has many of the same effects on spectators as religion does. It may seem odd, to equate religion with sport entertainment but it must be understood that prior to mass communications, religious ceremonies were a source of entertainment for ordinary people who rarely attended a theatre or travelled to a sporting event. Sports and religion may get categorized separately but their intersection is striking. Spectators worship other human beings, their achievements, and the groups to which they belong and that sports stadiums and arenas resemble cathedrals where followers gather to worship their heroes and pray for their successes. Meanwhile, fans wear the team colors and bear its flags, icons, and mascots whilst literally singing its praises.

            The long pilgrimages to visit gods on mountains and different parts of the country is not so different from the adventure sports people do when they ride their bike from Delhi to Leh and Ladakh or the mountain climbing experience. A previous generation with less money to spend on household did not understand the concept of holidays and the necessity of traveling. The freedom of speech was not there where people could say at home that they need a break from their life, but the calling from god or visiting different Dham was a way for people to get their time to travel, explore and see new things.

            Although the two are similar in the way people feel associated with it, I want to give few extra points to sports when compared to religion. First I have never heard people killing each other in the name of sports. Sure, there are fights and rivalries between teams and even though a team considers itself to be better than others, it all comes down to who performs better during the game. The emotions and the aggression are channelized to a more disciplined skill with rules whereas for religion there no boundaries or rules or an arena where they compete. So, how do this religion prove that they are better than the other. By getting more followers, building more religious structure based on a religious book which was written thousands of years back. Even a best edition book which has only few hundred thousand followers is revised and updated. So, how could we have deep trust in something which was written so long time back in such a complex world which is changing at such a rapid pace every day. May be what was written in them doesn’t apply anymore. But how can someone convince a religious follower. In sports when you or your team is not doing well, you understand that the current strategy is not working and you need to change something. In religion, how do you show a person that all that rule and teaching does not apply anymore? For most of the people, religion has become a way of life. It has not much to do with god but following certain traditions and values. So, we can believe in god without following any religion. I choose to believe in god and follow sports and I hope that the countries fighting among themselves can instead organise a soccer match to take out the hatred and love on the pitch instead of killing each other.