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ISSUE 119 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 10/28/2005

Sport and religion conference tackles issues

By Ryan Maus
Sports Editor

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday and Saturday, St. Olaf will play host to the Second International Conference on Sport and Religion: An Inquiry into Cultural Values. The two-day conference will feature six sessions and a number of high-profile presenters.

St. Olaf President Christopher Thomforde, a two-time All-Ivy League basketball selection at Princeton, will open the conference at 9 a.m. Friday in Viking Theater.

Thomforde will be followed by another of the conference’s featured speakers, accomplished author Dr. Robert “Jack” Higgs. Higgs was a Pulitzer Prize nominee for his 1995 book “God in the Stadium: Sports and Religion in America.”

Other keynote speakers at the conference include Martin Marty, who has authored over 50 books on history and religion, and Joseph Price, whose book “From Season to Season: Sports as American Religion” was recently published by Mercer University Press.

Saturday at 3 p.m. Dr. Chuck Chalberg will entertain audiences with his critically-acclaimed impersonation of former Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey, the man who helped break baseball’s color barrier in 1947 by signing Jackie Robinson.

The annual event, which will take place primarily in Viking Theater and Buntrock’s Grieg Room, will also feature sessions dedicated to spirituality in baseball, ethics in collegiate athletics and theology in sport, among numerous other topics.

St. Olaf head wrestling coach Sean Ahrar will be giving a lecture Saturday afternoon about sport and religion in his native country of Iran, and philosophy professor Gordon Marino will speak on Friday morning at 11 a.m. about character development.

“We’re not trying to make up anyone’s minds on this subject,” said physical education professor Gary Wicks, who has organized both conferences. “We’re just trying to facilitate further study into this area and hope that many people will join in the discussion.”

The conference, which will feature participants from numerous foreign countries such as Taiwan, Norway, the United Kingdom and Canada, and is free (except meals) and open to all St. Olaf students, faculty and staff members. For more information, click on the link on the St. Olaf homepage (

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