For all of my lack of ability in sports I do appreciate the Olympics, which ended last Sunday with a spectacular closing ceremony. I am always awed by the athletes who have dedicated so much of their lives to their sport. I only recently found out that our former pope, John Paul II, was a huge sports enthusiast and always saw a connection between the sacrifice and dedication of the athlete and that of the Christian. In a homily in 2000, Pope John Paul spoke of "the logic of sport, especially Olympic sports" as also being "the logic of life: without sacrifices, important results are not obtained, or even genuine satisfaction." He even went so far to say that "sport," without losing its "true nature," can answer the needs of our time: "sport that protects the weak and excludes no one, that frees young people from the snares of apathy and indifference, and arouses a healthy sense of competition in them; sport that is a factor of emancipation for poorer countries and helps to eradicate intolerance and build a more fraternal and united world; sport which contributes to the love of life," has the potential to teach "sacrifice, respect and responsibility, leading to the full development of every human person."
CYO operates out of the same department as mine, and I see this potential in action. Sports, done in the light of faith, can be an act of evangelization — bringing people into the life of discipleship in ways that simply couldn’t be done otherwise. What a blessing that such games can continue in our schools and parishes throughout the year!