The global pandemic has led many people to a deeper reflection on their lives and to a renewed search for meaning. Many have made important changes in their lives. This was the context in which the leaders of the two Vatican Dicasteries – the one for Laity, Family and Life and the one for Culture and Education – conceived the idea of convening an international summit for deeper reflection on the human and cultural significance of sport and the importance of sport for the future.
The Summit took place on 29-30 September 2022 in the New Synod Hall in Rome. Its title “Sport for All: Cohesive, Accessible and Tailored to Each Person” captures well the focus of the gathering. A Declaration signed by all participants in the presence of Pope Francis encourages athletes, coaches, sport institutions and others to play their part “in a season of renewed responsibility.”
The Declaration expresses concern about the excesses that accompany sport when it is driven purely by profit and performance, with a “never-ending desire for more.” It is in the context of such extremes that a chasm has developed in many parts of the world between elite and more popular or grassroot sport. The call for “cohesion” is a call for a “unitary” vision of sport that allows professional athletes, intramural basketball players, children playing soccer, Olympians and others to recognize one another as fellow participants in a common human endeavor.