How Muscular Christianity's sports became a new secular religion – a 200-year story of society’s ‘great conversion

Christian England invented most of the major international team sports and its British Empire took them to the world, as much through religious missionaries as merchants and military. Now, observes  Prof Hugh McLeod , while the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, can muse aloud that “religious faith is a motivating factor for the players – it binds them together,” in the secular West, "sport frequently takes over the role formerly performed by churches of seeking to produce mature adults and good citizens." ‘Cradle-to-grave indoctrination’: West Ham United fans before an FA Cup match at Kidderminster Harriers in February 2022. Carl Recine/Reuters/Alamy “JESUS CHRIST was a sportsman.” Or so claimed a preacher at one of the regular sporting services that were held throughout the first half of the 20th century in Protestant churches all over Britain. Invitations were sent out to local organisations, and sportsmen and women would attend these services en masse. Churche

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