A new Vatican document cautions against the dangers of highly competitive children’s sports, political and economic pressures on athletes to win “at all costs” and the unsportsmanlike or violent behaviour of fans.
The document on sports also calls on every group or institution sponsoring sports programmes to have expert-guided child protection policies in place and it urged bishops, parishes and lay Catholics to be proactive in helping “humanise” sports.
The document, ‘Giving the Best of Yourself’, also condoned sports on Sundays as a means of bringing families and communities together in joy and celebration, but only as long as such events are not used as an excuse to miss Mass.
The document was released June 1 by the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, and is the first Vatican document on sports, said Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the dicastery’s prefect.
In a message to the cardinal, Pope Francis applauded the document and said: “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,” said the Pope, who often fondly recalls how he and his family cheered on his favourite soccer team when he was a boy.