How did Catholic girls in Philadelphia in the 1940s amuse themselves? Why, by playing basketball, of course! Drawing on that 30-year-tradition of hoops mania, little Immaculata College won the first three women's NCAA college basketball championships in the early 1970s. Byrne, a religion professor, brings a fascinating point of view to the history of this unlikely ball club, arguing that the young women's spiritual values, as much as their physical skills, helped make them champions. The sports-religion connection is examined in fascinating depth, as Byrne probes the traditional Catholic position on sports, effectively building the case that basketball allowed young women the opportunity to be expressive without sacrificing their Catholic beliefs. Interviews with hundreds of Immaculata alums provide Byrne with plenty of anecdotal evidence to back up her claim that these athletes helped shape a generation of women. In an era when athletes' values are routinely under attack, this is perhaps the most unusual sports book of the season. Mary Frances WilkensCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
--This text refers to the
The sports-religion connection is examined in fascinating depth, as Byrne probes the traditional Catholic position on sports, effectively building the case that basketball allowed young women the opportunity to be expressive without sacrificing their Catholic beliefs... In an era when athletes' values are routinely under attack, this is perhaps the most unusual sports book of the season.
(Mary Frances Wilkens Booklist
Entertaining and eyeopening...Students in women's studies, religion, and sociology would benefit from this well-documented book.
A vivid portrait of how faith can develop strong athletes, and how sports can help grow faith.
(Nancy Kruh Dallas Morning News
Terrific... [Byrne's] nostalgic about the days when a little-engine-that-thinks-it-can could actually win a national championship, and clear-eyed enough to understand that the implementation of Title IX has erased the possibiity that it could happen again... [T]he story of the team that won three titles on a shoestring and a prayer makes a good book.
(NPR, Only a Game
O God offers a vivid portrait of how faith can develop strong athletes, and how sports can help grow faith.
(Nancy Kruh Knight Ridder Tribune
The Immaculata story has long needed a comprehensive telling, and Julie Byrne does an excellent job in O God of Players....[It] is a necessary addition to basketball literature.
(Philadelphia City Paper
The reader will discover how these pioneers opened the door for young girls across the US, encouraging them to enjoy sports, especially basketball, and have fun idolizing their role models, who did their part to liberate national attitudes about women's athletics. This is a great book. Essential.
Byrne's engaging social history of the Macs examines everything from the development of Philly's fearsome hoops culture to racial and religious bigotry to the challenge of coaching young ladies whose role model was the Virgin Mother.
With Byrne acting as translator, their stories are compelling indeed...Her readable style was one of the reasons why I assigned it.
(Kathleen Sprows Cummings American Catholic Studies Newsletter
O God of Players details this basketball world, offering a window into an unexplored corner of American women's sports and American Catholicism.
(Pamela Grundy The Journal of American History
This book is an important contribution to the history of American religion and American sport, this represents a signal achievement... If god moves in mysterious ways, we clearly need more local studies like this to understand how people live out those mysteries in everyday life.
(Richard Ian Kimball American Historical Review
This ingenious study should find a place in both survey and seminar courses.
(Religious Studies Review