Vatican releases guidance on sports

sports

Giving the Best of Yourself – is the first-ever Vatican document on sports.

The document addresses a number of matters, including highly competitive children’s sports, putting political and economic pressures on athletes to win “at all costs”, playing sport on Sundays and unsportsmanlike or violent behaviour.

The document, which speaks out about sports-related corruption, over-commercialisation, manipulation and abuse, says organisations and institutions sponsoring sports programmes need expert-guided child protection policies.

E-sports – video game competitions and tournaments that award large cash prizes and draw huge numbers of spectators – are also mentioned.

Bishops, parishes and lay Catholics are called on to help “humanise” sports.

The timing of sports is mentioned in the context of Mass attendance.

The document says playing sports on Sundays is alright, as a means of bringing families and communities together in joy and celebration.

However, it notes these events should not be used as an excuse to miss Mass.

The document was released by the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life.

Pope Francis, who is a football supporter, says sport is “a very rich source of values and virtues that help us to become better people.

“We need to deepen the close connection that exists between sport and life, which can enlighten one another,” he says.

Specific concerns the document raises include:

  • Parental responsibility to show children they are loved for who they are, not for their successes, appearance or physical abilities
  • Sports that inevitably cause serious harm to the human body cannot be ethically justified
  • People are not machines
  • Parents, coaches and communities must avoid objectifying players, particularly with expectations that they receive medals, scholarships, wealth or break records
  • Dignity and freedom that must be protected in sports is protection against abuse
  • The Church should develop and promote an “apostolate for sports” showing its commitment to the integral well-being and development of the human person in sports and to directly initiate sports-related activities at the local level.

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