Strength of Religious Faith: A Comparison of College Athletes

Derek Van Rheenen, Laura Pryor, Rachel Roberson, Ed Wright, Tarik Glenn


Faith is the foundation of all religions. Sporting practices may be an important site for both private and public expressions or exercises of religious faith. Beyond knowing or construing a deeper meaning to life, the exercise of religious faith may likewise serve as a coping mechanism within the sports context. Specifically, religious practice may help athletes manage the uncertainty of outcome in sport, as well as their fear of sustaining a serious injury. Given the potential psychological benefit of religious faith within this context, researchers have hypothesized that college athletes would demonstrate higher levels of religious faith than other post-secondary students. The current study seeks to expand on this research, examining hypothesized differences among college athletes at a large, public Division I university on the west coast of the United States. Participants completed the Santa Clara Strength of Religious Faith (SCSRF)—Short Form (Plante, Vallaeys, Sherman, & Wallston, 2002), a five-item self-report measure utilized to assess strength of religious faith regardless of religious affiliation. Findings suggests that both level of athletic competition and racial identification contribute to higher levels of religious faith. That racial identity was a stronger predictor than level of athletic competition is worthy of further exploration from both a social and historical perspective.

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