Something new I learned today:
The founder of the modern Games was a Jesuit-educated French aristocrat and school reformer, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who saw sport as a means of reviving his country’s prowess after defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Impressed by his visits to English public schools, which showed, he wrote, how “organized sport can create moral and social strength,” he tried without success to persuade French education to incorporate more sport. That failure led to a new idea: a festival of international athleticism modelled on the competition held every four years in the ancient Greek city of Olympia. Coubertin wanted it to promote the values which he saw in the ancient Games: competition among amateur rather than professional athletes, peace and understanding between nations and the idea of a struggle to overcome our own limitations as being more important than winning. (Quoted from OSV)
Catholicism really does encompass all parts of our personal and social lives as individuals and as communities. I read this article today and was uplifted by this paragraph from the same article:
But the Church has stressed that this message is as relevant to the Paralympics as the Olympics. Speaking at a Catholic conference dedicated to the theme of disability on July 11, Cristina Gangemi, disability consultant to the bishops of England and Wales, said the Paralympics enact the message of the theology of the body. Pope John Paul, she said, “was always in shape, firmly disciplined and allowed the Spirit to guide him in sport,” while showing in his later life that “there is continuity between health and illness” and “the body must be respected and honored at all stages.” The Ancient Games were a holy event, an opportunity to heal social divisions and repair the fragmentation of society.
I have been aware of some negativity from bloggers regarding the hype and hero-worship status of the Olympic games and didn’t really understand why. What could possibly be better than having 200+ nations on this earth participating in peaceful ‘combat’ for the sake of sport, national pride and the improvement of self? After reading the above article I understood… I had a light-bulb moment: I looked back on the Olympic games as I was growing up I remember thinking it weird that anyone would possibly want to participate in the Games when disabled or physically challenged. Surely there is no more perfect body than those of Olympic athletes?
The fact it, the body should be respected always. The body encompasses the soul and the Spirit. Not just the outer shell. We are not just our body.
The Olympic and Paralympic Games are about much more than sporting excellence. Underpinning the Games is the philosophy of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the Modern Olympic Movement.
These Values are:
- respect – fair play; knowing one’s own limits; and taking care of one’s health and the environment
- excellence – how to give the best of oneself, on the field of play or in life; taking part; and progressing according to one’s own objectives
- friendship – how, through sport, to understand each other despite any differences
The Paralympic Values are based on the history of the Paralympic Games and the tradition of fair play and honourable sports competition.