227. “Equally significant is the emphasis that young people place on sports; the Church should not underestimate the potential of sports for education and formation, but instead maintain a strong presence there. The world of sport needs to be helped to overcome some of its problematic aspects, such as the idolization of champions, subservience to commercial interests and the ideology of success at any cost”.[FD 47]
These are all challenges to the Gospel. Some might say nearly insurmountable. I still follow sports, though not nearly as much as I once did.
At the heart of the experience of sport is “joy: the joy of exercising, of being together, of being alive and rejoicing in the gifts the Creator gives us each day”.[Address to a Delegation of the International Special Olympics (16 February 2017): L’Osservatore Romano, 17 February 2017, 8]
Joy is indeed an elusive but fruitful quality one might seek in athletic accomplishment. Our second Doctor of the week is quoted:
Some Fathers of the Church used the example of the training of athletes to encourage the young to develop their strength and to overcome idleness and boredom. Saint Basil the Great, writing to young people, used the effort demanded by athletics to illustrate the value of self-sacrifice as a means of growth in virtue: “These men endure sufferings beyond number, they use many means to build their strength, they sweat constantly as they train… in a word, they so discipline themselves that their whole life prior to the contest is but a preparation for it… How then can we, who have been promised rewards so wondrous in number and in splendor that no tongue can recount them, even think of winning them if we do nothing other than spend our lives in leisure and make but half-hearted efforts?”[Ad Adolescentes, VIII, 11-12: PG 31, 580]
Check this link to get a look at the whole document by Pope Francis.
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