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Q&A with Eric Bain-Selbo and Terry Shoemaker

We were absolutely delighted to get to interview Terry Shoemaker and Eric Bain-Selbo, the editors of the brand-new International Journal of Sports and Religion. Shoemaker is Assistant Teaching Professor at Arizona State University’s School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies. Bain-Selbo is dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Southeast Missouri State University.

Q: How do you think sports and spirituality interact in broad strokes? What facets of that relationship are you excited to learn more about?

A: While spirituality often is connected with some sort of relationship to a transcendent being, it also is associated with experiences of community and individuals becoming the best version of themselves. These latter goals are not exclusive to stereotypically religious settings or institutions. Human beings achieve these goals through a number of different cultural institutions or phenomena, including sport. How that happens and how we should understand it are complex and still not very well understood. The journal provides us with an opportunity to expand our knowledge in this regard.

Q: What aspect of setting up IJSR has surprised you the most, either in regard to the articles written or the process of establishing a new journal in general?

A: We have been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm we have heard from colleagues in the field. The field has grown incredibly in the past decade. We are excited about the new theoretical and methodological directions that the journal will cultivate.

Q: It must be asked: what are your favorite sports? What draws you to them?

Eric: College football remains my favorite. I’m drawn to it by the passion and the importance of it in the region of the country in which I was raised (the southeast portion of the United States).

Terry: I’ve been a longtime fan of basketball and have played it for years. Basketball appeals to me because of the sheer athleticism required to play the game at the highest level. I’m also very interested emerging sports like pickleball and individualized sports like skateboarding.

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Q: Do you have any “ideal articles” for the journal?

A: There has been an incredible explosion of work in this field in the last decade. The field is poised for some great advances in thinking about sport and how it is related to religion or even functions religiously. There are plenty of topics and questions that are appealing, but we’re particularly interested to see work that explores race, gender, emerging sports, individualized sport, global perspectives, and even transnational comparisons. Of course, we’re most excited simply about the articles that we can’t even imagine yet, but advance the field even further.

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