It's summer and the sporting season is well underway. As Roger Federer bags his hat-trick, 18-year-old Maria Sharapova sees defeat, and the London bid team celebrate their Olympic success, you'd be forgiven for wondering if there'll be anyone left in the pews come summer 2012. Many clergy already report the absence of family worshippers of a Sunday morning because it's key training time for the local hockey league or similar.
But this competition between sport and faith is nothing new, nor a peculiarly British problem. It was the Christian Emperor Theodosius in fourth-century Byzantium who banned the Olympic games because they were too 'pagan'. Rather more recently, in February 2004, a writer for the Boston Globe noted that many parents simply feel there are more benefits to be found in league-games than church services: "their children can gain self-confidence and skills in athletics that are not taught in Sunday school".
So does sport necessarily set faith off-side or can we re-write the competition rules?
Whether its advocating different patterns of worship or telling the gospel through sporting champions, there are plenty of books proffering if not precisely the hope of victory at least an amicable draw.