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Religion & Sports

March 21st, 2024

Both sport and religion are multi-billion dollar endeavors in American life. In this episode of Religion &, our panelists explore the multitude of ways that sport and religion converge and diverge in American life. Featuring expertise in the history of sport and religion, sports fandom and religion, and sport and religious experiences, panelists highlight how race, politics, and religion manifest through play. Join us as we consider fields, courts, pitches, and turf and their role in the creation and exporting of American culture.



Jennifer Guiliano, Professor of History, IUPUI

Dr. Guiliano has served as a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant and Program Manager at the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (2008-2010) and as Associate Director of the Center for Digital Humanities (2010-2011) and Research Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of South Carolina. She most recently held a position as Assistant Director at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at the University of Maryland where she also served as an adjunct instructor in the Department of History in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Digital Cultures program in the Honor’s College. Dr. Guiliano currently serves as President of the Association for Computing in the Humanities (ACH) Executive Council (2016-2018), as co-director with Trevor Muñoz of the Humanities Intensive Teaching + Learning Initiative (HILT: www.dhtraining.org/hilt), and as co-author with Simon Appleford of DevDH.org, a resource for digital humanities project development. Dr. Guiliano completed her 2015 monograph Indian Spectacle: College Mascots and the Anxiety of Modern America, which traces the appropriation, production, dissemination, and legalization of Native American images as sports mascots in the late 19th and 20th centuries. She is also completing her co-authored work Getting Started in the Digital Humanities with Dr. Appleford.



Annie Blazer, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, College of William and Mary

Annie Blazer is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies. Her courses cover religion in America from the colonial to contemporary period. In particular, Professor Blazer’s courses investigate the relationships between religions and American culture, paying attention to race, class, gender, and sexuality. Professor Blazer’s first book, Playing for God: Evangelical Women and the Unintended Consequences of Sports Ministry (NYU Press), was released in July 2015. The book is an ethnographic exploration of the religious experiences of Christian athletes in the U.S. Professor Blazer’s current research project investigates the effects of gentrification and re-urbanization on religious communities and focuses on the East End of Richmond, Virginia.

Jeffrey Scholes, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Jeffrey Scholes is a Professor of Religious Studies in the Department of Philosophy and the Director of the Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. His research interests center on the relationship between religion and sports and American political theology. He is the author of Vocation and the Politics of Work: Popular Theology in a Consumer Culture (Lexington 2013), Religion and Sports in American Culture (Routledge 2014), Christianity, Race, and Sport (Routledge, 2021), and co-editor with Randall Balmer of Religion and Sport in North America: Critical Essays for the Twenty-First Century (Routledge, 2022). He is currently working on a book on Religion and Sports Fandom.

Onaje Woodbine, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, American University

Onaje X. O. Woodbine’s research explores the varieties of black religious experience, especially as they are lived on the margins of power and outside the bounds of established institutional authority. His most recent book, Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop, and Street Basketball, garnered national praise as “a profound narrative of survival [and] self-determination … in this season where black male bodies are under attack.” Covered by The New York Times (“street basketball functions as an outlet of mourning and healing of urban youths”), NPR’s All Things Considered (“invites readers to look at basketball differently … as a sacred space where young black boys go to ‘reclaim their humanity’”), ESPN (“full of colorful tales and haunting heartbreaks”), Boston Magazine (“painful, beautiful, nonfiction debut”), and the National Catholic Reporter (“A powerful and deeply moving work … reveals a world of redemption and hope rarely glimpsed from the outside”), Black Gods was longlisted for the 2017 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing and named one of The Boston Globe’s best books of 2016.

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