Annie Blazer

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In her new book, Playing for God: Evangelical Women and the Unintended Consequences of Sports Ministry (NYU Press, 2015), Annie Blazer shows through archival research and participant-observation how the paradigm of sports ministry transformed from one centered on celebrity male athletes using their fame to explicitly call audiences to conversion to Christ, to one in which female athletes predominate and implicitly seek to convert their sports fans through moral, Christian behavior while seeing themselves as engaged in spiritual warfare and enjoying the joy of athletic pleasure as God's affirmation of their own devotion. At the same time, Blazer shows how their identity as female athletes and relationships with players who are lesbians has led many to reinterpret or challenge traditional Evangelical understandings of gender roles and sexuality. Throughout her book, Blazer skillfully weaves together the stories her subjects told her with her own insightful analysis, all done in a sensitive and even-handed way. This book is an excellent read, and anyone interested in the intersection of sports, gender, and Evangelical Christianity would gain much from it.

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