Religious and theological explorations of leisure have remained few and far between, as religious studies perceive sport and game related studies as trivial, and as leisure theorists find social scientific methods more compelling. And yet, religious traditions and thinkers have been offering accounts and ethics of leisure activities for thousands of years, and anthropological evidence suggests the origination of sport and game play arose in the context of religious cult activity (Huizinga, 1949; Guttmann, 2007). Further, contemporary research has indicated that religion plays an important role in structuring the thought and behavior of religious persons towards their leisure (Waller, 2009) and spiritual and transcendental explanations have been increasingly considered in phenomenologies of sport and play (Parry, Nesti, & Watson, 2011) as well as therapeutic recreational models (Wozencroft, Waller, Hayes, & Brown, 2012).

With this evidence it seems time to recognize religious accounts or theologies of sport as a contributor to the greater field of sport studies, and one that will enable a richer understanding of the cultural context of sport. Along this tack, this paper will offer an introduction to such religious conceptions by looking specifically at the theology of sport discipline from the tradition of Western Christendom and showing how religious discourse on sport enriches the overall study of sport.