Monday, January 21, 2013

The Vatican Men Take Pro Athletics Under Their Broken Wing

I tried to find a photo of a Cardinal in a track suit, and all I could come up with is a FLYIN' FATHER in a cassock.  Check out this link.  The Flying Fathers represent my idea of Catholic values in sports. Plus they cheat.
It's good to know that when the Vatican is not protecting us from priests who wonder about reforming a few things, they are always searching for other avenues in which to assert Catholic moral values. Now it's professional athletics.  Personally I think they are way too late to save professional athletics from itself, but what ever.  The following article is taken from Catholic News Service and written by Carol Glatz.

Vatican to enlist Christian all-stars to help scandal-ridden sports

In an effort to flex its moral muscle in the professional sports arena, the Vatican has invited top-tier Christian athletes Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin to help bring ethical values back to a scandal-ridden world of sports.

The Pontifical Council for Culture is planning to host an international conference on re-instilling values in sports this spring, inviting representatives from top world governing bodies like FIFA (the International Federation of Association Football), the International Cycling Union and the Italian National Olympic Committee. (Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lynn? Why no Catholic athletes? Baseball and hockey have tons of Catholic athletes.)
Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda, head of the council's "Culture and Sport" section, told Catholic News Service on Wednesday that pro sports "have become a commodity that is subordinate to the free market and, therefore, to profit." (The Vatican truly does move at a glacial pace.  That economic thing happened over a century ago.)

Instead of sports being an activity that builds important values, respects human dignity and helps shape the whole human person, "it has reduced people to merchandise," he said. (The athletes went right along with this, like a lot of entertainers.)

U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong's admission to doping was just the tip of the iceberg, he said, since high-stakes commercial interests pressure almost every professional cyclist into the illegal practice. The world of cycling and soccer is "a world that is rotten," he said.

"We want to work with the big sports bodies to give new value to sports" and the upcoming conference -- titled "We Believe in Sports" -- will be one way to get that initiative started, the monsignor said.
The council will also have Catholic and Christian athletes in attendance, to give witness to how the worlds of faith and sports can easily come together. (Actually they don't come together so easily. One can't help but wonder why neither Tebow nor Lynn are with the teams they were with when their fame as Christian poster children became widespread.)

He said the council hoped its participant line-up would include two high-profile Christian U.S. sports stars: NFL quarterback Tebow of the Denver Broncos, and NBA basketball player Lin of the Houston Rockets.
The goal of the conference is two-fold, Sanchez de Toca said.
First: "to help put healthy values back into sport and counteract the current market logic, because if the current state of affairs continues, all is lost." (It was lost a long time ago. Or as a very famous Catholic football coach, Vince Lombardi, stated fifty years ago: "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."  The best Tim can do is win one for Jesus, but it's still all about competition and winning, and not about Jesus.)

Second: to help the church see sport as an important resource for future priests, Catholic schools, parishes and catechists. (Ohhh I get it, to find priests who pass for macho straight athletes, like uhmmm, I know!  Georg Ganswein.)

The former-modern pentathlete-turned-priest said the council also wants to hold a "Race of Faith" -- a 100-meter jog, shuffle or sprint up the Via della Conciliazione toward St. Peter's Square during the gathering.
"We want to see lots of cardinals in tracksuits, too," he said.  (I might actually buy a ticket to see Cardinal Burke shuffle in a tracksuit with his matching socks and shoes.  Undoubtedly he would be sponsored by any number of clerical designers and tailors.)


I have a tough time understanding why the Vatican thinks it has all the answers for absolutely everything.  In the first place I think cleaning up professional athletics should be a lay thing, not that I really think the laity will be able to clean up professional athletics while buying tickets to professional athletic events and thereby feeding the beast.  The laity have been singularly incapable of using this same strategy with Hollywood.  When it's about money and competition, money and competition are what it's about.  Those are the only values that count.  Everyone must agree with that or we would stop supporting professional athletics. 
I am not being a personal hypocrite here, after spending months complaining about greedy hockey players and owners, I'm right back into hockey after exactly two days of actual play.  When one is pretty much aware they are part of the problem, it behooves one not to pretend they can be much help in the solution.  Which is precisely why I find the idea of Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lynn as part of the solution to put values back in professional sports something of a joke.  Right....maybe when they both play for free, or in Tebow's case when he only gets paid for the minutes he actually plays and not for the minutes he prays.
In any event, my idea of Catholic clergy getting involved in sports really is the Flyin' Fathers'.  Over the course of the teams existence they have made over 6 million for charity and brought a great deal of joy doing so.  OK so they cheat to win and that's why their record is 900 wins in 906 games. They are honest about that and possess a certain amount of integrity in their honesty.  At least they don't threaten damnation when they lose and they know from personal experience the sin bin is a temporary banishment, and not a permanent excommunication.  Shoot, maybe they should run the Vatican.


  1. The Flying Fathers, wow...I saw them play at Maple Leaf Gardens when I was a kid. They were a lot of fun.

    1. Thanks Colleen,

      I could teach a course on this topic, oh yeah, I do.

      Muscular Christianity is, I believe best exemplified in the movie "Chariots of Fire" by Eric Liddell.

      Liddell: "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."

      It is a fine example of a movie produced by a Muslim, Dodie Al Fayed, about the relationship between a Christian and a Jew in an unlikely time and circumstance.

      Well, there goes your Semite, Hugh.
      A different God.
      A different mountain top.

      The problem with most of these RC officials is they know nothing about our own traditions, such as the Flying Fathers.


    2. It's too bad we don't have something similar down here in the States. It sounds like they put on a good show.

      I do know Bishop Ken Untener played on a hockey team for a long time, and my dad talked about playing against the priest's team for the Archdiocese of Detroit. According to dad they didn't given any slack during the game. Afterwards maybe, but not during. Cross checking an auxiliary bishop was not a big deal, he was just another sweater with a number. LOL.

    3. Paul, Chariots of Fire is one fine movie and I love the sound track.

      But really, those were back in the days when the Olympics were the haven of European nobility and upper classes except for the upstart Americans and their silly ideas of competitive equality, which was also brought out quite well in the movie.

    4. Holy Freud,

      I read your comment as "corporate equality". I need some rest.


    5. I do that kind of thing all the time, read what my mind thinks is coming next. I hope that's just part of getting older. Rather than other parts of getting older. LOL