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Word Count: 901
The relationship between religion and sport has changed dramatically throughout the centuries Originally with the Greeks athletic competitions were mixed with religious ceremony But with the rise of Christianity and Puritanistic beliefs athletics became a sinful activity scorned by the clergy and religious fanatics The Greeks were a very religious people Being polytheists they believed that particular gods could provide assistance in all aspects of life The competitive games of the Greek culture grew out of their religious and cultural ceremonies directed at these gods The Greeks held religious festivals with feasts dancing and athletic contests to honor the gods The most famous of these contests the Olympic Games was held in honor of the warrior god Zeus The Olympic athletes swore to Zeus that they would obey the rules and play fair The entire first day of the Games was made of religious ceremony including oaths prayers sacrifices and the singing of hymns At the end of the second day a black ram was sacrificed to the god Pelops who myth said originated the games The following morning one hundred oxen were sacrificed at the altar of Zeus It is easy to see at this time that religion and athletics existed in harmony one feeding off the other Games were a way to honor and please the gods It was not until the advent of the Roman spectacles that religion and sport diverge and become opposing forces Romans taste in sport differed greatly from that of the Greeks The Greek games were to tame and too individualistic The Romans spectacles were much more violent and also more about entertainment than a religious rite These spectacles including chariot racing animal fights and gladiatorial combats were extremely brutal and filled with death and gore One of the few bodies of resistance came from a religious group the early Christians This protest was more a matter of survival that anything else Christians were regularly
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