Rethinking Sport and ReligionDaniel A. Grano
In his persuasive study The Eternal Present of Sport, Daniel Grano rethinks the sport-religion relationship by positioning sport as a source of theological trouble. Focusing on bodies, time, movement, and memory, he demonstrates how negative theology can be practically and theoretically useful as a critique of elite televised sport.
Grano asserts that it is precisely through sport’s highest religious ideals that controversies are taking shape and constituting points of political and social rupture. He examines issues of transcendence, “legacy”—e.g., “greatest ever,” or “all-time”—and “witnessing” through instant replay, which undermine institutional authority. Grano also reflects on elite athletes representing especially powerful embodiments of religious and social conflict, including around issues related to gender, sexuality, ability doping, traumatic brain injury, and institutional greed.
Elite sport is in a period of profound crisis. It is through the ideals Grano analyzes that we can imagine a radically alternative future for elite sport.
"Daniel Grano has achieved an unusual and valuable integration of several important social and academic subjects. With his focal concept of transcendence, he merges a diverse range of issues. Blending ways of studying sport, religion, and society, The Eternal Present of Sport presents a novel perspective. For scholars and general readers alike, this book will open new ways of thinking about popular culture, religion, and sport."
—Barry Brummett, Charles Sapp Centennial Professor in Communication and Chair of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin
"The Eternal Present of Sport is quite unlike any other sport studies book. Grano utilizes an understated but effective interdisciplinary approach in unpacking the empirical complexities of sport culture—from the embodied to the digital, the commercial to the technological, the legal to the philosophical. His grasp of sport and cultural studies literatures is truly comprehensive, and his application of the scholarship in examining the sport-religion nexus is both innovative and insightful. The Eternal Present of Sport delivers the comprehensive radical contextualization of the sport-religion dialectic that others have merely purported to provide. With its wide-ranging and illuminating critical analysis of both sport and religion, this book will have an immediate and significant impact on numerous literatures."
—David L. Andrews, Professor of Physical Cultural Studies in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Maryland
"The Eternal Present of Sport offers a compelling and detailed accounting of many of the major moments in sport and culture today. Drawing a consistent dialectical thread, Grano's work is painstakingly detailed and offers an abundance of rhetorical, social, and religious support for each of his arguments.... This book should be well-received as a judicious foray into the wedding of religion and sport. It offers much to both of those readerships, and its clear and engaging style includes a welcome mix of vignettes and anecdotes that punctuate and strengthen both its clarity and persuasive appeal.... The book is compelling and insightful, masterfully navigating the past and the present in the hopes of exposing the tensions at play today in sport’s religious imagery." —Journal of Communication and Sport
"Grano offers novel tactics for historians looking to pursue cross-sport and cross-cultural work...Grano's methodological decision to track tropes allows him to trace language across sports and national boundaries in innovative ways.... Second, and perhaps more importantly, Grano fulfills Daniel A. Nathan's call for sport historians to understand their domain of study as a landscape of ideological contestation that produces and reproduces social relations." —International Journal the History of Sport
"Grano brings his expertise in communication studies to present a unique exploration of the relationship between religion and sports.... He questions concepts such as transcendence, when fans and sportswriters herald elite athletic accomplishments as proof that individuals have 'transcended' previously held limits in human potential. Grano also explores the theological impact of such diverse subjects as instant replay, sexuality, brain injury, institutional greed, and doping for performance enhancement. Summing Up: Recommended." —Choice
"(T)he author did a very good job in presenting and analyzing the history of big sports.... In a final analysis, if you are a sports fan, most of the book is very informative and interesting, especially on topics that we know about but about which little is written." —International Journal of Sport Communication
"Grano advances a carefully crafted argument.... On the whole, The Eternal Present of Sport is a strong, well-composed, and unique contribution to the study of sport.... (I)t is ultimately an engaging and worthwhile look into a moment of building questions within elite media sport and a well-reasoned argument for why there could in fact be some level of revolutionary potential within all of this."
— International Journal of Communication
"Grano’s book is extremely well researched and he draws on a diverse range of rich material for his arguments. He is clearly a subject expert with in-depth knowledge of some key developments in sport as well as of sport organizations."
— Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture
" Overall, Grano’s work does a good job addressing the present challenges and tension points in sport. When looking at the history of sport, it is tempting to smooth over the rough edges of social, economic, racial, and political injustices present to provide a more harmonious picture. Grano does not allow for this, requiring the reader to acknowledge that hope in sport is not possible when these elements are ignored. The author also should be commended for approaching sport and religion through the lens of critical theory. This type of analysis has not previously been published, bringing new perspective to the field."
— Journal of the Philosophy of Sport