On November 15, a new TV show, “Religion of Sports,” aired on the Audience Network. The show is produced by Tom Brady, Michael Strahan, and Gotham Chopra, the son of famous spirituality guru Deepak Chopra. The series will consist of six hour-long episodes that will each explore an example of the ways in which sports impact the cultural and spiritual aspects of religions around the world. According to The Boston Herald, the show explores the rivalry between soccer clubs in Glasgow, Scotland; the Calgary Stampede rodeo in Alberta, Canada; and the rise of "e-sports." It will also delve into NASCAR, mixed martial arts, and minor league baseball.
Brady released a statement about his involvement in the show, saying, "I’ll never forget watching 'The Catch' in Candlestick Park with my dad. I was 4 years old, in awe of it all. In a lot of ways, I've dedicated my life to replicating that feeling. Now, playing on the same stage as my childhood idols, I’m fortunate to have a pretty unique perspective on football and the sports world. I can think of no better vehicle than Religion of Sports to share some of what I’ve learned and dig a little deeper into that feeling, the sort of spiritual experience that sports creates for players and fans alike.”
Echoing the same sentiment, Strahan added, "Growing up in Germany, I never imagined myself to be a professional athlete. At that point, I was a professional fan. Watching the reaction of the country when Germany won the World Cup back in 1990 showed another level of fandom that I had never seen. Sports can be that void that brings everyone together regardless of any barriers: socio-economic standing, race, and religion. To be a part of this project, Religion of Sports, brings full circle the things that I have learned as a child without even knowing that in some ways, I was having a religious experience. Religion of Sports will be the bridge that connects the passion of religion with the passion of sports.”
Chopra, though coming from a very different background than Brady and Strahan, is just as excited to be part of the show. When asked about the idea, he said, “Figuratively, I feel like I've been working on this my whole life. Obviously growing up with my father, I was around that world of spirituality and religion. But I also grew up in Boston. I bled green as a Celtics fan in the '80s. I loved sports. About five years ago, I had a conversation with my father, who never really understood that devotion to sports. And I remember saying to him that all of those things you speak in the spiritual tradition also exist in sports.”
The intersection of religion and sports has always been a popular topic in the United States. Few things inspire many Americans to pray the way that sports do. In addition, athletic metaphors are often used in the Bible to refer to the life of faith, especially in the writings of Paul, who encourages those receiving his letters to fight the good fight and run the race. This show has a great opportunity to explore this passion that so many have, and it will be very interesting to see what the show concludes is the cause of the devotion.