Finding God on the playing field

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From the Magisterium

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1882.
Certain societies, such as the family and the state, correspond more directly to the nature of man; they are necessary to him. To promote the participation of the greatest number in the life of a society, the creation of voluntary associations and institutions must be encouraged "on both national and international levels, which relate to economic and social goals, to cultural and recreational activities, to sport, to various professions, and to political affairs."[1] This "socialization" also expresses the natural tendency for human beings to associate with one another for the sake of attaining objectives that exceed individual capacities. It develops the qualities of the person, especially the sense of initiative and responsibility, and helps guarantee his rights.[2]
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2289.
If morality requires respect for the life of the body, it does not make it an absolute value. It rejects a neo-pagan notion that tends to promote the cult of the body, to sacrifice everything for its sake, to idolize physical perfection and success at sports. By its selective preference of the strong over the weak, such a conception can lead to the perversion of human relationships.
"Mater et Magistra," § 60.
This development in the social life of man is at once a symptom and a cause of the growing intervention of the State, even in matters which are of intimate concern to the individual, hence of great importance and not devoid of risk. We might cite as examples such matters as health and education, the choice of a career, and the care and rehabilitation of the physically and mentally handicapped.
It is also partly the result, partly the expression of a natural, well-nigh irresistible urge in man to combine with his fellows for the attainment of aims and objectives which are beyond the means or the capabilities of single individuals. In recent times, this tendency has given rise to the formation everywhere of both national and international movements, associations and institutions with economic, cultural, social, sporting, recreational, professional and political ends.


1 Cor 9:24-27 Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
2 Tim 4:7 I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.
Heb 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.


The best description of my attitude toward Christians watching sports is:

  1. I identify strongly with one or more athletes or teams and care very much whether they win or lose; I do not think this is incompatible with the faith.
  2. I enjoy watching sports but I do not root for any particular individuals or teams; I do not think this is incompatible with the faith.
  3. I do not enjoy watching or talking about sports, but I do not think those who do enjoy watching or talking about sports are doing something contrary to the faith.
  4. I am troubled by the role that sports play in modern society; because there is something unbalanced or destructive going on, Christians should not support the sports industry.
  5. None of the above describes my view adequately.



  1. John XXIII, MM 60.
  2. Cf. GS 25 § 2; CA 12.