Breakfast With Bernie
Restoring The Faith In Faith Using Sport
On October 5th, the first-ever conference of its kind, Sport at the Service of Humanity (SSH16), was held at The Vatican. Pope Francis, the visionary leader behind the creation and hosting of the conference, believed it was a necessary and timely initiative because of the global problems facing society today. He wanted to encourage today’s world leaders to help restore the faith in faith using the power of sport.
SSH16 attracted approximately 250 world leaders from many communities (14 different Faiths were represented), plus the Secretary General of the United Nations (Ban KiMoon), the President of the International Olympic Committee (Thomas Bach), and leading global professional, Olympic, collegiate and amateur sport executives, coaches, athletes and government leaders to The Vatican in Rome, Italy.
The conference was not about organized religion, but rather restoring Faith in Humanity, and revealing more of the infinite goodness that lives in most people. It sought to refocus the world leaders on the amazing “Power of Sport” – namely, Sport Is Inherently Good; and Sport Can Do Good!
You’re probably asking, what is the difference?
- Sport Is Inherently Good – playing sports can make people healthier in body, mind, and spirit. Sports provides us one of the best vehicles to build mental and physical endurance. Watching sports, whether supporting family members or spectating at professional/ Olympic or collegiate events etc., can be fun and cathartic.
- Sport Can Do Good – sports can serve to make the world a more involved, inclusive and inspired place that helps engender tolerance, offers healthy competition and learning on how to join and compete with people of different cultures, backgrounds, and abilities.
With all the challenges and issues currently impacting society, particularly with scandals and corruption at the highest level of both religion and sport, Pope Francis felt that it was necessary and timely for Faith and Sport to remind and reawaken people to the massive power that these two pillars of human life can provide.
Sports can teach people values in showing you how to play by the rules, build teamwork, work hard, develop mental toughness, deferred gratification, perseverance, win gracefully, and finally, grow physically, mentally and improve by applying the right lessons on how to win and how to learn from losing.
Playing sports generally makes people happier. Happier people are invariably less stressful, more accepting and therefore, more likely to live in peace with one another.
Everton Football Club of the English Premier League shared their example at the conference of helping those live in peace through their “Everton in the Community” program. Everton Football Club adopted the entire community of Walton, a poor suburb in the city of Liverpool, England that surrounds their stadium. EITC built a community center for all the neighborhood to enjoy and come together. In all cases, whether it was helping widowers find new friends after their loss or giving the homeless a place to shower and free clothes, it helped people find their self-esteem, rejoin the mainstream of society, and start to rebuild or reshape their lives.
The conference had so many of these stories of sport-based community programs positively impacting people – including the incredible Homeless World Cup (Soccer) that has attracted over 100,000 homeless participants with 73% of those who participated in the program at a frequent level coming back into the mainstream.
The SSH16 Management Committee began planning 18 months in advance, and Aspire played a major role in shaping both the conference itself and the proposed legacy movement of Humanity Sports Club. Six critical principles were developed by this group and shared during the conference to form the basis of what Pope Francis hopes people across the globe will adopt, promote and adhere to on a daily basis going forward.
I challenge each of you to do the same in both your professional and personal lives.
Sport at the Service of Humanity involves –
- COMPASSION – Using the power of Sport to help others
- RESPECT – Using Sport to build trust and understanding
- LOVE – Sport is for all
- ENLIGHTENMENT – Sport has the power to transform lives and build character
- BALANCE – Sport has the power to help us make the most of ourselves
- JOY – Sport, above all, is about enjoyment
At Aspire, we have prominently posted each of these Principles in our Corporate office in Atlanta, GA to help inspire our employees to live these principles each and every day.
I am asking you, our Aspire community, to take on the responsibility of helping to make Humanity, and hence, the world, a safer and more peaceful place to live. For all the people to be Involved, Included and Inspired. Start with yourself, then your loved ones, friends and associates and then please spread the message of Faith In Humanity and Faith in the Power of Sports.