PHIL 226(F) Big Games: The Spiritual Significance of Sports (Same as Religion 279)

Sports matter beyond all apparent reason. They are children's games, yet grip adults. They serve as entertainment, yet are taken most seriously. They demand physical excellence, yet drive athletes to injury and spectators to become obese. The significance of contemporary sports is thus unquestionable, but it is also unexplained. Diversion and fitness alone cannot begin to account for the extraordinary amounts of time, money, and emotion invested in the playing, watching, and analysis of sports. This course will attempt to comprehend the significance of sports by attending to their role as a source of three distinctive forms of "spiritual" experience: patriotism, beauty, and divinity. We will consider the extent to which the fundamental elements of contemporary sports (games, athletes, equipment, arenas, fans, and media) can be interpreted as together comprising a complex phenomenon that provides opportunities for all participants to share in these experiences. Throughout we will investigate actual examples, taken from particular sports, chosen for their ability to illuminate different aspects of spiritual experience.

Format: lecture and discussion; possible field-trips. Requirements: two short papers, one final project, attendance and participation No prerequisites. Enrollment limit: 130 (expected: 130).