Altar of sport

footballSo Seahawks and Steelers, eh? Should be a good Superbowl, I think, after watching all of the Broncos-Steelers game and a bit of the lesser conference game. I am an expatriate of Broncos Nation, which means many of my Sundays after church have been spent in front of the television.

There were a few things this season that reminded me of the religious significance of football. One was that when 49ers linebacker Thomas Herrion died after a game, his casket was draped not with a baptismal pall but a 49ers blanket. The second was that when Hurricane Katrina hit, Mayor Nagin directed stranded people to find sanctuary in the Superdome.

But every football game (and the sport in general) has religious significance, as Denver Post religion reporter Eric Gorski deftly points out in his fun and yet smart and respectful piece in Sunday’s paper, “O Come, All Ye Faithful“:

If the Broncos are a religion, these are the High Holidays.

The cathedral is a glimmering oval of steel along the interstate. . . .

Services start at 1 p.m. sharp today. In the end, someone will probably kneel down.

Scholars and clergy will tell you there are legitimate parallels between sport and religion. Both are steeped in ritual, help forge identity and unite people from different walks of life in a common cause. . . .

These same scholars and clergy will tell you there are risks to blurring football and faith: of potential idolatry, or misplaced prayers and priorities.

It’s a great piece that covers a broad range of religions and treats them all respectfully — even a priest who wore orange vestments the first time the Broncos made it to the Superbowl.

The conceit behind the piece could have resulted in knee-jerk collection of quotes from various clergy, but the author really educates the reader about various religious views. Too bad my Broncos didn’t do as well as Gorski.

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