The value of sports
Tom Monaghan says many fine Christian qualities can be learned or honed through sports . ..
As someone who has played and followed sports my whole life, I’ve found athletics to be a natural source of recreation — not to mention a way to stay healthy and fit.
However, one need not look too far to see abuses in sports whether it’s professional athletes’ misconduct, college athletes being exploited for the sake of a school’s bottom line, or the win-at-all-costs mentality found at every level. Yet as Christians, I don’t think we should “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Over the last couple of years, I have given more thought to the role of sports as we at Ave Maria University (AMU) have developed our athletics program. We have worked with students, faculty, staff and coaches to develop a program that fully embraces our mission as a university to form men and women in the intellectual and moral traditions of the Church and to help them develop into future leaders for our society and Church.
Sports can play a key role in this formation. Life lessons like discipline, teamwork, persistence, focus, communication and learning to perform under pressure are just a few such qualities that can be learned or honed through sports. Also, coaches can serve as Godly role models who impact these student-athletes for life. This is why we take the hiring of our coaches at AMU very seriously.
Can athletics get out of hand in our sports-crazed society? Of course. However, sports can play an important role in our lives and, more importantly, in the lives of our children and grandchildren if approached in the right way. With that said, let me leave you with a quote that eloquently conveys this idea:
“Sport, properly directed, develops character, makes a man courageous, a generous loser, and a gracious victor; it refines the senses, gives intellectual penetration, and steels the will to endurance. It is not merely a physical development then. Sport, rightly understood, is an occupation of the whole man, and while perfecting the body as an instrument of the mind, it also makes the mind itself a more refined instrument for the search and communication of truth and helps man to achieve that end to which all others must be subservient, the service and praise of his Creator.” — Pope Pius XII, Sport at the Service of the Spirit. July 29, 1945.
Thomas Monaghan is Legatus’ founder and chairman. He is a member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter.