Joe Price, professor emeritus at Whittier College, was recently named alumnus of the year at his alma mater, the University of Chicago’s Divinity School.
Price, who taught religious studies at Whittier, was also featured in an article for the university’s magazine, “Are sports an American religion?”, to talk about his work studying the interconnections between both religion and sports.
Ever since Price was young, sports and religion have been present in his life and because of this, he often wondered how religions and sports were connected. At Chicago’s Divinity School, he was able to take courses to explore that topic and brought his newly developed expertise to Whittier in 1982.
“Theologian Michael Novak pointed out that the experience of defeat in a sport is a way to rehearse how one will deal with death,” Price said in the article, discussing one of the ways sports relates to religion. “Issues of life and death are dramatized in a timeframe of sports competition that reflects questions of ultimacy. And that’s fundamentally a religious question.”
In 2014, Price founded the Institute for Baseball Studies, a humanities research center devoted to the sport, with two other professors at Whittier College to further promote the cultural understanding of “America’s pastime.”
Whittier College provides students with courses relating to the significance of baseball to American culture. Some courses allow students to participate in faculty-led trips abroad to places such as Puerto Rico and Cuba so that students are able to get a deeper understanding of the topic. An award is given to students who write a paper or create a project pertaining to the information learned in the course.
By Destiny Randle '23