Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Religious Studies

Reader 1

Gastón Espinosa

Reader 2

Andrew Jacobs

Rights Information

© 2014 Maarten K. Lefor


Around the world, religion takes many forms that vary greatly in practices, beliefs, and doctrine. In fact, defining the term "religion" is a difficult task in encompassing a multitude of faiths. In America, various cultural practices emulate the religious nature of various classic religions. Sport is a peculiar example that hold the interests of millions. However, the way sport is experienced as a fan differs greatly from the way sport is experienced as an athlete. I argue that to an athlete, sport functions as a placeholder for religion in modern-day America. By exploring various functions of religion, as defined by Winston King in the Encyclopedia of Religion (1959), it is clear that sport offers the same components as religion. However, as scholars such as Price and Chidester have found, sport does not function completely as a religion for fans. I finish with a discussion of why sport in the eyes of a fan fails to meet the requirements for sport acting as religion; using King's definition, it becomes clear that sport, for fans, fails to offer the same type of traditionalism and sacred experiences as found in religion, as well as the experience of sport for an athlete.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.