By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WE JUST went gaga over the latest win of Manny Pacquiao. Then our excitement reaches another level with the opening of the latest season of the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association). And there are more to come.

    Sports understandably gets our instant attention. It strongly invites us to play it out. And so we see a growing number of people, young and not so young, doing some sports. That’s good!
Sports can do a lot of wonders to us, because it corresponds to an objective human need. Not only does it develop our body. It also occasions growth in the many virtues we require, both personal and social, like a good sense of discipline and team work.

    With proper management, sports can be expected to strengthen our moral and spiritual life. In fact, we have to see to it that the effects of our sports reach that point. Otherwise, it would not be worthwhile.

    As a form of rest, sports is meant to give us a healthy diversion from our work routine. But it is not supposed to make us forget our work, but rather to recover our strength to return to our work and main concerns with greater vigor.

    It is precisely because of this inherent goodness of sports that everything has to be done to protect it from deteriorating into something harmful to us. It’s part of our human condition that good things come always with some spoilers.

    It might sound trite, but that Gospel story of the cockles growing with the wheat because of some evil men, remains applicable now, and especially in relation to sports. Given its nature, sports is quite susceptible to viruses.

    This concern is not meant to be a wet blanket, but rather to insure that our sports be always consistent to our dignity. We should not be naïve and complacent.
Many more things happen than just having some excitement when we play sports. Sports is not just a purely physical thing. By necessity, it affects our whole being. Thus, it affects not only the body but also our soul.

    We have to be mindful of this basic truth about sports. Especially when it is played big time, every effort has to be made to foster and reinforce this truth. We have to realize that sports has a tremendous social impact.

    We just cannot play out our sports activities in any level in a purely random and designless way, guided only by what is most convenient at the moment, what is practical, popular or pleasurable.
We have to have a certain plan, a certain purpose and strategy. Competition in sports is not just about winning a game, because winning has many other forms including a certain sense of victory even when one loses a game.

    We have to see to it that sports competitions are infused with a healthy spirit of friendship and mutual help so that everybody reaches our common good. We defeat the purpose of competition when it leaves in its wake the remains of envy, hatred and bitterness.

    We have to be wary when sports becomes an obsession, dominating our life such that it ostracizes other more important activities, like our prayers, family duties, and even our professional work.
We have to see to it that sports should not deaden our proper sense of the value of time, our sense of priorities, the awareness of our duties and responsibilities, whether personal, family, social, or religious, professional, etc.

    We have to be careful when sports becomes too commercialized that it fosters all sorts of aberrations: vanity, pride, arrogance, body worship. There’s also its proneness to succumb to selfishness, greed and deceit.

    We need to help one another in fostering the proper dispositions towards sports. The leading men in the sports industry should give more attention to the ethical and spiritual aspects. Sportsmen should be the first to show the proper conduct in which the different sports are played.

    They truly become champions when they manage to relate their sports to our ultimate end, converting sports into a prototype of our ascetical struggle and scoring the right points.