Hail Mary, full of grace.
October 29, 2005 10:48 AM   Subscribe

'My religion contains pain, suffering, sacrifice,/Hardship, and bliss. My shoes are God.' H.G. Bissinger's book Friday Night Lights told the story of a town consumed by devotion... to its high school football team. 'These places really are like shrines,' said Bissinger in an interview for the movie's web site (flash). Nike ads invite viewers to 'test your faith daily' and Muscular Christians distance themselves from 'musclemen.' Secular America still bends its knee in the name of the sound body, and Hail Mary passes are recalled in detail twenty-five years later. Of course, not everyone subscribes to the culture of fitness.
posted by rebirtha (16 comments total)
Sports such as, Weight Lifting, Bowling, etc., become religions for the worshippers of flesh.
posted by phrontist at 11:01 AM on October 29, 2005

So are these the guys I see in the gym wearing these?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:04 AM on October 29, 2005

I watched the film version of Friday Night Lights on a plane and was absolutely blown away. How it had flown under my radar I have no idea - it's an artful, turthful, fierce and sad film, the best sports movie I've seen in my life (although I'm not a sports fan), and for all its flaws was both visually and emotionally arresting. One of the things that struck me the most (unsurprisingly, knowing me,) was the soundtrack -- Explosions In The Sky turn the football games into furious, lonely, adolescent and very american feeling battles.
posted by Marquis at 11:09 AM on October 29, 2005

Or more directly: Fitness is Religion written by Madonna's former trainer where she called their workouts "going to church."
posted by birdherder at 11:18 AM on October 29, 2005

There is a Do of physical training.

(Has been since Bodhidarma cut his eyelids off)

I tend to meditate when I run. Details or dogma would seem to get in the way, during the actual physical exertion part.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:19 AM on October 29, 2005

High school football is a shrine. To blown out knees before the age of 18.
posted by telstar at 11:26 AM on October 29, 2005

Being someone who constantly works out I must attest that it is more biological than spiritual. When a person works out hardcore their endorphins get released and it becomes a drug. Essentially, I am addicted to exercise.
posted by j-urb at 11:28 AM on October 29, 2005

All sports are dung, slime, and human feces.

No, no... tell us how you really feel...
posted by arcticwoman at 11:40 AM on October 29, 2005

I'm hoping there is more to all of this than justifying homophobia and proto-fascist tendencies.

It's interesting that both the pro and wacky anti- sides had a betish for preparing young boys for war. Guess it just goes to show that everyone can disagree and still be wrong.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:30 PM on October 29, 2005

Bart, there's two seconds left. Now listen up. It's your basic Statue of Liberty play with one twist: you throw it to me! Knute Rockne called it the forward pass.
posted by papakwanz at 1:24 PM on October 29, 2005

I thought that the way Friday Night Lights used Explosions in the Sky totally failed. Explosions was still great, but you'd have these things where there'd be a big game and instead of letting Explosions rock the fuck out they'd just put on some horrible 80's or rap shit. I don't even remember exactly what kind of crap it was, but it was crap.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:40 PM on October 29, 2005

An observation by my wife (from out-of-state): "In Austin, even the treehuggers and the hippies don't dare fuck with Texas High School Football."
posted by mrbill at 3:45 PM on October 29, 2005

When a person works out hardcore their endorphins get released and it becomes a drug.

There is little in the way of conclusive science to support this piece of popular folklore. One might as well say there is big voo doo in bwana's mumbo jumbo after vigorous exercise.

Biological Components - On a biologic level, the exact modus operandi of exercise on mood improvement is largely unknown, although strong hypotheses have emerged. By far, the most likely explanation involves an increase in the mood regulating chemicals known as beta-endorphins, or the elevation of another chemical, serotonin, which is responsible for maintaining the neurotransmitter receptors for the endorphins. It has long been known that a deficiency in serotonin is often responsible for cases of manic depression, and a 1982 study showed that exercise improves the transmission rate of serotonin to the receptors. Although the endorphin theory makes sense, it has thus far been unproven in tests. The chemical has long been associated with the euphoric state known as "runner's high," and is thus a logical candidate for explaining the exercise-reduced depression link. But surprisingly, when the theory was tested in a 1993 study comparing endorphin levels to mood, it was learned that improved mood occurred in subjects with no endorphin rise (a group of meditators) just a much as with those who had exercised to the point of an endorphin rush (elite runners).

Another possible biologic factor was demonstrated in a 1997 study that showed that exercise improves sleep quality, which then elevates a general feeling of well being. In sum, the biologic pathway of exercise on depression is still being studied, although there is little doubt that it exists.

Psychological Components - In 1997, researcher JC Spence compiled the findings of 51 different studies and determined that the mood-enhancing effect of exercise works on a psychological level in addition to a biologic one. Stated simply, Spence arrived at an equation of sorts: exercise greater self-esteem = lower incidence of depression. Spence further noted that the mere social interaction that results from most forms of exercise elevates the mood of many depressives who would otherwise not get out of bed or share calming conversations with anyone.

It was demonstrated in 1978 that a positive psychological aspect of exercise stems merely from the fact that the time spent exercising is time diverted from brooding or, areas of worry, concern, and guilt. A last theory involves the possibility that large-muscle activity used in exercise helps the sufferer discharge pent-up anger and frustration.

The Effect of Exercise On Depression

Certainly vigorous exercise, even for short periods, causes blood endorphin levels to rise far above their normal levels for several hours, although no-one knows why this happens. But, is this what causes the exercise high? Some studies have shown that drugs which block the effects of opiates, and so endorphins, reduce this effect when given to volunteers. But an equal number of studies have shown no effect at all.

Attempts to relate mood to blood levels of endorphins have also not been successful. In one study a psychologist measured mood and endorphin levels in 28 women on an 8 week exercise program. Endorphin levels certainly increased in some women, but not necessarily the most in those who experienced the greatest exercise highs.

Endorphins: are they all in the mind?

To date, the most active speculation by clinicians about the role of endorphins has been in the area of compulsive running and exercising (cf. Sacks and Pargman 1984). If running stimulates endorphin production (Pargman and Baker 1980; Riggs 1981), then compulsive runners are presumed to undergo narcotic-like physical states to which they become addicted. Research on the relationship between endorphin levels, mood swings, and running motivation has failed to turn up regular relationships (Appenzeller et al. 1980; Colt et al. 1981; Hawley and Butterfield 1981). Markoff et al. (1982) and McMurray and his colleagues (1984) reported that exercising subjects treated with the narcotic-blocking agent naloxone reported no differences in perceived exertion and other physiological measures from those not treated. Addicted running—defined by inflexibility and insensitivity to internal and external conditions, running until the point of harming oneself, and being unable to quit without experiencing withdrawal—is no better explained by endorphin levels than is the self-destructiveness of the heroin addict (Peele 1981).

From Theories of Addiction from Stanton Peele's The Meaning Of Addiction.
posted by y2karl at 9:03 PM on October 29, 2005

Now I have no idea why I get so happy when I work out.
posted by j-urb at 8:14 AM on October 30, 2005

I guess I can't go around telling people it is all about the endorphins now... WAIT... I will make it into a religion! You just have to believe man!
posted by j-urb at 8:26 AM on October 30, 2005

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