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POPE FRANCIS warns Olympic LEADERS: DON’T COMMERCIALIZE SPORTS or EXPLOIT ATHLETES!

I was thrilled to read this story.  I would probably if this was some other respected leader having these views about sports shouting it loud and long!

But it is Pope Francis.  And he deserves special respect.  So I will be guardedly enthusiastic about it.  But here is the Vatican report and another Catholic report and they both seem to say that the Pope did speak out against over commercialization in sports.  And I agree with Pope Francis!

Pope Francis also spoke of the dangers of reducing sport to mere business and unbridled competition. “Whenever sport is considered only according to economic parameters or to achieve victory at all costs,” he said, “we run the risk of reducing the athletes to mere merchandise from which to profit.” Pope Francis added that when this happens, athletes themselves are put through a mechanism that overwhelms them. “They lose the true meaning of their activities, the joy of playing that attracted them [when they were young], and that has led them to make so many sacrifices and become champions.” Pope Francis concluded saying that sport is harmony, but if the excessive pursuit of money and success prevails, this harmony is broken.

Pope Francis also spoke of the dangers of reducing sport to mere business and unbridled competition. “Whenever sport is considered only according to economic parameters or to achieve victory at all costs,” he said, “we run the risk of reducing the athletes to mere merchandise from which to profit.” Pope Francis added that when this happens, athletes themselves are put through a mechanism that overwhelms them.

I am pleased to see such a spiritual leader say this.  I believe the pros in the Olympic games debase the Games and the athletes, too.  It ought to stop.  It also gives the rich and powerful nations an unfair advantage, hence my use of the term “sports imperialism” to describe it.  Rigging the game so the pro teams win by huge margins is “…achiev[ing] victory at all costs…” and it does run the risk of “…reducing the athletes to mere merchandise…” (See the comment by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban here at this blog!  Is Pope Francis not right here at the exploitation of the athletes for millions to play basketball for the USA?)

I would like to comment on the fact that Pope Francis was given the highest award the Olympics can give – The Olympic Order in Gold.  I think instead of giving this genuinely humble leader another award, the Olympics ought to give serious consideration to the warning the Pope gave to the Olympic leaders.  Pull it back – find a way to stop the over commercialization and the professionalism (not in a good way) of the Games.  Do it today.  The confessional is to the right.  Bear fruit worthy of repentance, as John the Baptist was quoted!

 

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood “Sandy” Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia’s first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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