Sport as an occasion of human fraternity

sport and human fraternity

Throughout the month of July, the Pope is calling on people of all reglions to pray:

That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.

Getting started:

I close my eyes and imagine a group of athletes on a cross-country race, running up and down the hills, across difficult paths. Then I reflect briefly on how this dynamic scene illustrates the ups and downs of life.

Short story:

Abele Bikila (August 7th 1932 – October 25th 1973) was a double Olympic marathon champion from Ethiopia, most famous for winning a marathon gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics while running barefoot. Bikila was added to the Ethiopian Olympic team only at the last minute, as the plane to Rome was about to leave, as a replacement for Wami Biratu, who had broken his ankle in a football match. Adidas, the shoe sponsor at the 1960 Summer Olympics, had few shoes left when Bikila went to try some on. He ended up with a pair that did not fit comfortably and so he could not use them. A couple of hours before the race, Bikila decided to run barefoot, the way he had trained for the race. Bikila won, becoming the first person from Ethiopia to win an Olympic gold medal. After the race, when Bikila was asked why he had run barefoot, he replied, “I wanted the whole world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won by means of determina-tion and heroism.” In 1969, Bikila had a car accident. He lost control of his car as he tried to avoid a group of protesting stu-dents. The accident left him paraplegic. After the accident, as a paraplegic, he participated in the Inter-national Paraplegic Games in Norway. In a 1983 interview, Bikila spoke about his motor accident. He said: “Men of success meet with tragedy. It was the will of God that I won the Olympics, and it was the will of God that I met with my accident. I accepted those victories as I accepted this tragedy. I have to accept both circumstances as facts of life and live happily.”

Time to reflect:

Did you ever experience tragedy in your life? Think about the feelings you experienced at the time. What kind of support did you receive when you went through your setbacks in life? Do you accept tragedy the way you accepted victories in your life?

Let us pray:

Dear Lord grant that, through Sports, we may grow into strong and stable characters able to face both the joys and sorrows of life. May we find the human support needed to turn our tragedies into victories.


“The fight is not over until you win.” Robin Hobb

Hands on:

Call to mind one difficulty which you presently feel particularly challenging. Reflect on how your family or friends can help you overcome any obstacles which may be crippling your heart and mind.