Cover: Playing with God: Religion and Modern Sport, from Harvard University PressCover: Playing with God in HARDCOVER

Playing with God

Religion and Modern Sport

Product Details


Print on Demand

$41.00 • £35.95 • €37.95

ISBN 9780674024212

Publication Date: 04/15/2007


336 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

20 halftones


Add to Cart

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

Baker takes the reader on a fascinating and informative trek through the history of the intimacy between religion and sports in America, and he even includes a chapter on Athletes for Allah.—Mitch Finley, Catholic News Service

It is the best presentation of this interplay [between sports and religion] published to date… This book is must reading for anyone interested in sports and religion.—G.H. Shriver, Choice

A valuable story about the engagement of religion with sports. [Baker] focuses on U.S. history from the time of the Puritans to the present day, pausing at times to delve deeply into the stories of a few prominent figures, such as Knute Rockne, the tough-as-nails football coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and a convert to Catholicism. As a historian and researcher, Baker is exceptional, and his writing is fluid and energetic.—David Nantais, Christian Century

Baker has long specialized in sports. In this worthy addition to his works, he again considers sports in America, this time studying the mutual influence of sports and religion… Well written and highly informative.—James F. DeRoche, Library Journal

Playing with God surveys the complex and dynamic relationship between sport and religion throughout American history, with a keen eye for the shifting dynamics between these two staples of American life. This is a superb book that invites us to consider even more carefully the relationship between play and piety.—Randall Balmer, Barnard College, Columbia University

William Baker’s Playing with God is a natural. Baker reveals the countless ways that religious ideas infuse sports, and the complex ways that sports resemble religion. Along the way he tells great stories, and unearths a range of beliefs and practices across time and faiths. This is a fascinating history.—Elliott Gorn, author of A Brief History of American Sports

That old quarterback Bill Baker, once the passing preacher, plays with the old question, Is sports America’s true religion?, then scores with this readable and fascinating study of their interlocking history.—Robert Lipsyte, former New York Times sports columnist

Playing with God is sprightly, humorous, fast-paced, and judicious. No other book on modern religion and sport is as expansive, well-researched, or satisfying. Yet another touchdown by a former college quarterback!—Benjamin G. Rader, author of American Sports: From the Age of Folk Games to the Age of Televised Sports

In his carefully researched, beautifully written Playing with God, Bill Baker demonstrates that athletes and ministers have long worked together, and that the idea of sport as a civic religion is far from being an accident or a turn of phrase.—Randy Roberts, author of The Rock, the Curse, and the Hub: A Random History of Boston Sports

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, by Peter Wilson, from Harvard University Press

A Lesson in German Military History with Peter Wilson

In his landmark book Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, acclaimed historian Peter H. Wilson offers a masterful reappraisal of German militarism and warfighting over the last five centuries, leading to the rise of Prussia and the world wars. Below, Wilson answers our questions about this complex history,