That's where two talented philosophers, Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly, end up when they consider All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age (Free Press, 2011). It's the communal experience of being swept up with the crowd in dramatic moments or of sharing with the onlooking crowd a remarkable moment of peak performance that the authors are embracing:
Sports may be the place in contemporary life where Americans find sacred community most easily. ... It has even become popular to argue in recent years sport has come to form a kind of folk religion in American society, standing in for more traditional kinds of religious practice and belief. Whether or not it is true as a matter of historical and sociological fact that sport now plays this kind of religious role in America, a related phenomenological claim seems harder to dispute. There is no essential difference, really, in how it feels to rise as one in joy to sing the praises of the Lord, or to rise as one in joy to sing the praises of the Hail Mary pass, the Immaculate Reception, the Angels, the Saints, the Friars, or the Demon Deacons.
In part this association between sport and religion derives from the importance of community in each. (p. 192-93.)
I'd be inclined to think there is an essential difference: sports fans are just observers and fans who cheer their chosen player or team; religious participants are joined in worship, have made covenants of some sort, import mythos into their life from their participation, and derive a moral dimension from that mix of worship, covenant, and mythos. But I get what they are saying. We all remember Jim McMahon's Hail Mary pass and Danny Ainge's seven-second baseline-to-baseline drive. Yes, those are supreme moments.
Surprisingly, Dreyfus and Kelly don't see modern religion as offering anything shining; they don't even discuss it. Obviously, some readers will find this a serious flaw in their analysis. They do offer insightful discussions of Homer, Dante, Descartes, Kant, Melville, and David Foster Wallace before ending up at contemporary nihilism and their proposal for how to find the sacred in our thoroughly disenchanted world. Other crafts besides sports, skills and practice that bring you into contact with the world on a personal basis, can bring a bit of enchantment into your life, they say. The term "finding your bliss" (from Joseph Campbell) comes to mind, although Campbell approached that quest through the world's religious mythologies rather than through a mix of physis, poiesis, and techne.
A fitting summary of the authors' proposal to avoid the despair and nihilism of contemporary life would be: Engage more fully with those activities that bring a shining thing — enchantment or bliss or "the swoosh" (as they call it) — into your life. If you have no such activity, find one.