The pope as sportswriter

Mary Ellen Kelly reports on some remarks of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, nee Pope Benedict XVI, on the 1985 World Cup:

“The fascination with soccer,” he wrote, “lies essentially in that it forces man to discipline himself, such that, through training, he acquires dominion over himself. Through dominion, he achieves superiority. And through superiority, freedom.”

Soccer, he continued, teaches the person the value of “disciplined cooperation” and demands an ordering of the individual within the group. “It unites through a common objective; the success or failure of each one is tied to the success or failure of the group.”

via Cardinal Ratzinger on the World Cup » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

Nice analysis, applying really to sports in general.

America and the World Cup

The whole world is caught up in the excitement of the World Cup, the global championship of soccer. This is a true world series, involving virtually every nation in the world, all of whom care passionately about it. Except the United States! We have a team, which opens the tournament Saturday in South Africa in a game against England, but who here is noticing?

What I want to know is this: Why is the United States so apathetic when it comes to soccer? You could say that it isn’t part of our culture, and yet our kids play it, and many parents take that very seriously. Do even soccer-playing kids follow the World Cup? Despite the low scores, soccer can be an exciting game. The scores are no lower than hockey–in fact, the games are very similar, except hockey is on ice–and that sport is a big deal in this country (ask Chicago Blackhawk fans, whose team just won that championship). So how do you account for America’s lack of interest in soccer, unlike virtually every other country in the world? We get all excited about the Olympics, even with less popular sporting events. Shouldn’t we get similarly psyched up about the World Cup?

UPDATE:  The American team took a 1-1 draw with England, which counts as a major upset!  England is ranked way up there as a contender for the championship, and a tie gives you a point and undefeated status in the tournament.  C’mon, everybody:  U-S-A!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!


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