One of the Merriam Webster definitions of religion is: an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods.
It sure seems like you can draw some pretty clear parallels between organized religion and the worship of sports "deities."
I'm probably not the only one here who would like to give your paper a read after it's done - be sure to come back and share!
I think more than other sports, the love of baseball is passed on from generation to generation in a way that is similar to how a religion is passed on.
There are intricacies to the game that my son only knows because I explained them to him. It is this oral tradition of baseball that keeps it thriving.
Like showing how with a runner on first before every pitch the shortstop will hold the glove in front of his face and let the 2nd baseman know who should cover 2nd base in case of a steal.
Like telling him our pitcher is going to hit a batter next inning and explaining that baseball doesn't have a penalty box or 15 yard penalties so this is how bad behavior is policed.
As the last responder said, there are parallels between baseball and religion. To me there are clear distinctions as well. Thankfully, people do not kill in the name of baseball. Baseball does not formulate people's entire value structure. There is no separation between baseball and state (If there was, I don't think Rudy Giuliani would ever have been mayor of New York as I am confident he would have chosen baseball over public office).
I was fortunate enough to have coached my son's baseball team for a few years. Just as we are taught it is better to give than to receive, I can tell you that coaching was some of the most rewarding time of my life as it truly is better to give than to receive.
You may want to check out this book called Baseball as a road to God by John Sexton. good luck with your paper!