UBC Theses and Dissertations
Hot heads and soft hearts : community and the self in the British Columbia Christian Soccer League Howe Bukowski, Nicholas William
This thesis is about the British Columbia Christian Soccer League. The Metro Vancouver based league is part of a long history between sports and Christianity. The thesis is concerned with the question: what does it mean to be a Christian soccer player? Additionally, my project was interested in the social forms and relationships that could be produced, overcome and renegotiated through the soccer league. My fieldwork was spent with the soccer teams at an evangelical church, North Shore Alliance Church, in North Vancouver, Canada. This thesis is based on my time following the teams throughout the 2017 season and attending services at the churches. Soccer is a medium within the institution of North Shore Alliance Church to create community. Ideally, the soccer team, of mostly male church members, serves as a site of creating tight social bonds for people to ultimately become closer to God. The team is understood to serve as a site of community to counteract the fracture, individualism and self-glorification that the church associates with Western secularism. Players believe that the speed of the game, competitiveness and intensity leads to their “honest” or authentic self being shown. In the affective quality of the soccer field the players’ reactions to the game reveals the state of their “heart”. This knowledge allows the players to conceive of their relationship to God and the progress in a greater process of transformation. The play on the field acts as space to produce knowledge about their character and “heart”. Through soccer God can reveal and address areas of the player’s lives, such as anger. In this capacity, Christian soccer players should be open, emotionally attuned with God, emotionally responsive, vulnerable, concerned with others, and honest. The soccer team presents evangelical Christianity as a form of religion of felt experience, bodily knowledge, and emotion. In addition, it shows evangelical Christianity, a form of religion often associated with individualism, to be a form of religion that is also concerned with community and social bonds.
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