Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations


Sacred Sport: A Study of Student Athletes' Sanctification of Sport

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Kenneth Pargament

Second Advisor

Victoria Krane (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Annette Mahoney (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Casey Cromwell (Committee Member)


The purpose of this study was to provide and test a unique theoretical framework for understanding the relationship between sport and religion. The construct of sanctification from the field of the psychology of religion was introduced as a way to understand and examine this relationship. Drawing from a sample of college athletes, the degree to which athletes perceive their participation in sport as sacred was assessed. Several hypotheses regarding the implications of athletes sanctifying their participation in sport were tested. Results indicated that athletes' sanctification of sport was not uncommon; that is, many athletes viewed their participation in sport as sacred. Furthermore, sanctification of sport predicted important psychological and psycho-spiritual behaviors related to sport participation as well as health benefits.