I took a few days off with Mrs. PuckUpdate and read David Mamet’s THE WICKED SON, a treatise on modern American Judaism. I won’t review it here (it’s on my GoodReads if you’re interested), but one paragraph might have broad appeal to hockey (and sports) fans:
We note that the individual, by accepting the power of ritual, endorses the power of, and thus feels himself worthless before, the mystery the ritual bids to serve (the ritual thus essentially substituting its own concerns for a generalized anomie) and that increasing devotion to the religious group may address this anxiety and so, awaken in him increasing gratitude—called, variously, filial piety, patriotism, religious dogmatism, or sports rooting. (emphasis original)
I don’t have any thoughts on Mamet’s theory, but I am curious for how many people sports serves as a surrogate religion. Whenever I’m in Madison Square Garden I’m always struck by how much the whole event is a religious service: 18,000 clapping, singing, chanting and praying together.
A few years ago, the New Yorker had a great essay about an observant Jew trying to watch the Rangers 1994 Stanley Cup run without anyone finding out he was breaking several rules of Judaism to follow the games (the article is here, but not full-text). And I’m sure tons of people skip religious services and obligations for games.
Do we submit to sports? Are sports a contemporary religion? Can you be devout to both sports and religion? I’m not sure it’s a zero-sum scenario, but I’m also the kind of Jew Mamet calls out, so it’s hard to say.