In its excesses, sport is the mirror of modern times. Fierce competition, business, chasing records often overshadows its value and need. For Pope Francis, sport lives in the bed of beauty and profit, so it should be encouraged. Daniele Pasquini, director of the CSI and president of the “Giovanni Paolo II” Foundation inaugurates a series with Ave in collaboration with the Istituto per il Credito Sportivo with the book “Laudato Sì, sport!”. It is an attempt to draw inspiration from Bergoglio’s encyclical and to offer a compass in a complex world “a space of freedom without constraints but with precise rules”, as Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi writes in the preface .
The beauty is that in the papal encyclical the word “sport” does not exist, but certainly physical movement, team play fully participate in this “human ecology” so necessary today. A transversal phenomenon for all ages and all latitudes, proof of an educational emergency, “the need for sociality, for meaningful relationships with a high level of humanity”. Pasquini has doubts about the response from sports institutions and politics. The gaze is still on show business, the attempts at reform in Parliament are not structural.
Instead, precisely in the sign of Francis, the places “clean” of the stress of parties, of functionalist and economic logic, must be recovered, to rediscover the meaning of the party. If it is true that a regeneration of the quality of life is necessary, the author makes it a cultural project. At the first point, there is a return to nature: outdoor disciplines are a hymn to the beauty of places (running, cycling, trekking) and to the original meaning of the word “sport”: from the Latin deportare, to go out of the city (for fun, we imagine). With an awareness of the environmental impact that certain events cause. But sport is also an antidote to concrete, it makes our cities breathe better. It also makes us healthier mentally: the pandemic has highlighted this “need to get out”.
With an effective expression, Pasquini speaks of sporting activity as the “transforming force” of places. Many suburban pitches, if not held by associations, are neglected and dilapidated. On the contrary, they become places of meeting, exchange, socialization. Which is very different from connecting. Companies must adopt and be adopted by the territory. “There are still proven and reliable relational start-ups – writes the author”.
Another guideline of the book, the claim of free time as one’s own, non-transferable. “Freedom, meaning and beauty – said Francis – do not happen, but the future of humanity depends on it”. In a cultural project, play takes precedence over competitiveness (everyone must be given the same opportunities) and volunteers are strategic because they have a motivation and are far from the logic of profit.
We understand how much the author suffers from this contradiction between sport as a temple of fairness and that of scandals, special effects and doping. Integral ecology does not invite us to stop, but to rethink the rules, with creative ability and talent. With one certainty: the athlete is not a machine. And his body should be respected, the competitiveness should be healthy and not pathological.
The conclusion is a hymn to the inclusiveness of/in sport and its value as an instrument of peace, the Olympics have often been stronger than wars. But for this very reason, those who work in this world – from the rostrum to the school gymnasium – must have the strength to go against the tide.