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Olympics: A theologian champions need to ‘humanize’ sport (with video)

Alexandre Palma highlights moments of the “virtuous medal” that transcend victory or defeat ال

LISBON, July 20, 2021 (Ecclesia) – Alexandre Palma, professor at UCP Theological Seminary and one of the coordinators of the ‘Short Message on Mathematical Virtues’ project, of the ‘Manuel Sérgio’ chair, told ECCLESIA that it is necessary to “humanize On the sporty look.

“The idea that they are machines that will perform a certain activity, and must perform them at a high level of efficiency, is a purely mechanical view of the sport and movement itself, not a human one,” says today’s guest edition of Ecclesia (RTP2), in an interview about the upcoming edition of the Olympics .

Photo: Lusa/EPA

The professor at the Catholic University of Portugal points out that playing sports goes beyond winning or losing, stressing that athletes who compete very often “learn more from defeats than from victories”.

He adds: “Our bodies are we and we are human beings.”

Referring to the upcoming Olympics, Alexandre Palma asked him to overcome his obsession with medals and pay attention to the gestures of those who “choose to lose to help their fellow competition.”

“These are moments of medallion virtue,” he says.

For the Portuguese theologian, playing sports, especially in intense competition, is not simply “overcoming an opponent.”

“Often, it is the athletes themselves who reach this synthesis, after a long athletic career: the most important part of the itinerary was not the competitors who won, but the stages that they themselves won,” he notes.

Let’s look not only at the winner, but at the one who comes at the end of the pack”

The theology professor notes that the Olympic Games have a “very ritualistic” dimension – from the Olympic torch to the podium ceremony, passing through traditions such as the presence of the Greek delegation at the top of the parade of participating nations – allowing reconnection to the tradition of “humanizing sporting practice”.

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He points out that “rituals are a human element” that carries within them the dimensions of “memory and identity.”

Photo: Lusa/EPA

The Project A Brief Letter on the Sporting Virtues, by the Manuel Sergio Chair – Sport, Ethics and Transcendence, brings together contributions from different authors on 15 specific, classic and contemporary virtues, such as ‘Fair Play’.

“It’s a hunch we already have: the sporting virtues are not only valid for the world of sport,” says Alexandre Palma.

The theologian highlights that exercise, as a “whole human” exercise, is “a particularly difficult context around human reality, with all it contains, the opening it brings within itself”.

Therefore, theology, philosophy or anthropology views sport as “a human laboratory that transcends itself and has many ways to transcend itself.”

Sport is the epiphany of transcendence that inhabits man.”

The interviewee recalls that Professor Manuel Sergio emphasizes the dimension of exercise as a “becoming”, with a “path of transcendence”, from a theological point of view.

Sport is used in the Bible as a “metaphor” in relation to faith, and the Catholic teaching profession, in recent years, has sought an “interdisciplinary” perspective, to dialogue with different viewpoints.

Alexander Palma alludes to the “great metaphor” of the relay, “very ancient” in the Olympic tradition, with the passage of “testimony”.

He asserts that “what we have been doing for thousands of years is transmitting testimony to each other, in sports, in life, in religious, cultural, family and emotional contexts.”

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be held from July 23 to August 8, after a year-long postponement due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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