19 May 2020

Sport: back to the future

An opportunity for the right restart

A crisis that doesn’t become an opportunity is a missed chance. That is why the St. John Paul II Foundation for Sport, together with the office for the ministry of Leisure, Tourism, and Sport of the Italian Bishops’ Conference organized a series of meetings called “Sport: Back to the Future” that took place from April 27th to May 7th. The series, held in webinar mode and with the participation of about 50 experts from the world of sports, focused on the discussion on sport following the Covid-19 pandemic, or rather, on sport in the new era in which the Coronavirus has brought us at an unprecedented speed.

Daniele Pasquini, President of the St. John Paul II Foundation for Sport, stated to start a discussion that can help identify the signs and trends of the near future and help find new categories and hierarchies of value that are able to guide the choices that the world of sport will be called to make – to start “new wine in new barrels.” In these meetings, co-sponsored by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, there was the participation of Dr. Linda Ghisoni, Under-Secretary of the Dicastery, Fr. Giovanni Buontempo, responsible for relations with ecclesial movements, and Santiago Pérez de Camino, responsible of the Church and Sport office of the Dicastery.

In her speech, Dr. Ghisoni insisted on the challenge to be taken up from this pandemic in order for the world of sport to be one step ahead. With the help of meetings like these, a new approach to sport can be encouraged, leaving aside a selfish quest for success and eliminating violence on and off the field. “We hope that after this pandemic, the world of sport, like the rest of society, will be more willing to think about the certainties in which everyone puts their trust in,” said Dr. Ghisoni. She also stressed the importance of using the recent document “Giving the best of yourself” as an effective practical guide for this new period.

Fr. Giovanni Buontempo recommended a reflection starting from the Beatitudes, pointing out how sport has often lost sight of man’s happiness, and suggesting how it can transmit happiness in people, leading to a full happiness, which is God. On the last day, Santiago Pérez de Camino moderated the round table, underling the three ideas that encapsulate the objective of the seminar: Integration, sustainability and training. These are the ideas that will be further explored in the next months to outline a new educational project for the world of sport.

Many experts from the educational, religious and sport areas in Italy have taken part in these meetings, including Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Minister of Sport, Vincenzo Spadafora, the President of CONI, Giovanni Malagò, and Giampaolo Montali, General Director of the Ryder Cup 2022. The multimedia proceedings of the entire conference are made available at the following link: Multimedia Proceedings “Sport: Back to the Future.”