Response to “SUMO”
Whilst reading this blog on ‘Sumo’ as a religious sport, and other blogs that show compare the realm of sports and religion I wondered if there exists a sport that is played as a religious practice.
The closest example I found was that of the Olympics, the Ancient Olympics to be precise. Legend dictates that Heracles was first to label the games ‘Olympic’ and that he started the tradition of having them held every four years. Apart from being an athletic festival these games were also considered religious. This is so as alongside sporting events, ritual sacrifices were also conducted to please Zeus and Pelops (greek gods). The winners of the games were also idolized as statues were carved in their honor.
Now however, the Olympic games are purely a sporting event, one that is deeply rooted in the capitalist society with big multinationals sponsoring events, for example McDonalds. Though the original religious affiliations have been separated from the games, the kind of religious affiliation discussed in the aforementioned blogs has emerged. This can be observed from the way audiences revere athletes from their countries, how they religiously watch games and how the pray for successful outcomes.
The idolization of winners can be seen to have remained from the fact that winners often receive an influx of deals from sponsors wanting to advertise their products with this new successful and familiar face. Consumer patriotism is also tugged at to make financial gains by producers as many link the purchase of the product to the support of the national team and thus the nation.
Thus, we can see that this mega-hyped capitalist event grew out of a religious tradition and can still be said to have religious aspects due to the actions of the fans and powerful sponsors.