Student Author(s)

Owen Leibrock, Hope College

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Chad Carlson, Kinesiology

Document Type


Event Date



Christianity and competitive sport have a long history of interaction, oftentimes adversarial in nature. Yet in the last century and a half, Christians have embraced sport in such foundational ways that it is often now hard to imagine sport without certain Christian ideas and images. Competitive sport has taken on many forms and has been used in many ways both destructive and constructive. This wide range of Christian responses to sport throughout history begs the question: Does competitive sport truly fit within a framework of Christian ethics and values?

In order to answer this question, I will engage with theories from a variety of scholars from philosophy, kinesiology, sport studies, and religious studies who have taken different angles — sometimes antithetical — to offer their own answers to this question. Some answer with a simple "no", others a more complex "no", and many others a reluctant or sometimes resounding "yes". Hidden in this question are a few other questions that will illuminate how I approach this larger question: How do we define competition in sport? Is competition amenable to virtue development? Do the positives of sport outweigh the negatives?

Once these questions are answered, the ultimate goal of this project is to answer the simple and yet infinitely complex question of, How? How does a Christian engage in sport in healthy ways, edifying ways? There are some theories which encourage healthy engagement in sport, and I will explore some of them in order to provide a roadmap for Christians in the world of competitive sport.

Included in

Kinesiology Commons