Religion, sports, and public life in the midst of a pandemic


Sarah Lords

The spread of the coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the contours of social interaction, as mass gatherings of people have been cancelled under strict public health recommendations that individuals practice self-isolation and social distancing.

Among the casualties are two key events that have framed and defined much of American public and communal life: sporting events and religious services.

While these cautionary measures are effective in limiting the transmission of the virus, the decision to implement such stringent policies did not necessarily come easily. For many Americans, few things are more sacred than religious gatherings and sports. And one of their most sacred aspects is the way that they structure the cycles of time—by day, by week, by season, and by year. Or, as Terry Shoemaker notes, “do we lose a sense of who we are because we don’t know when we are?” (09:27)

Watch this interview with faculty affiliate and religious studies instructor Terry Shoemaker on the intersection of religion, sports and American public life in a time of COVID-19 as we explore:

  • What the cancelation of these events signal for American public life (02:08)
  • How these events frame and add meaning for participants (05:56)
  • How these associations may change post-pandemic (10:24)