An estimated 4 billion people worldwide are expected to cheer on athletes competing in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

This global congregation and love of sport is synonymous with the bonding that occurs in churches, mosques synagogues, temples and other places of spiritual worship, says Jeanne Hess in her book Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games (Balboa Press, 2012).

As a coach, professor of physical education, mother of two professional athletes and wife of a coach, Hess has witnessed firsthand how competition brings people together, heals wounds, enlightens, and helps athletes achieve a higher level of consciousness.

She explores her theory of Sportuality and encourages readers to think critically about competition. In doing so, Hess takes a unique approach to the analysis by examining the etymology of words common to athletics and the spiritual aspect of sport, including community, inspiration, communication, language, enthusiasm, humor and education.

At the end of each chapter she includes a “Box Score,” which encourages readers to reflect on their own athletic endeavors and spiritual nature.  

Although a self-proclaimed dualistic Catholic-Episcopalian, Hess’s book serves as a useful guide for athletes, coaches, parents and fans of any, or no, religious denomination who seek joy and peace from sport.