Q and A on Sports Fanaticism
catholicqanda.org, moderator who originally posted this source: B. Egan
” Being a fan is a good thing…as long as it doesn’t become all-consuming and lead people away from more important commitments in their lives.”
Question: What is the catholic church’s teaching on sports fanaticism?
I can’t say that I have ever heard of the Catholic Church having a specific teaching regarding being a sports fanatic, however, the Church certainly does have teachings that can be related to this topic.
First let’s consider the meaning of the word fanaticism. There are different types of sports fanatics. There are those who enjoy athletic events and are loyal to the teams for which they cheer. Their loyalty might include watching every game, wearing the team’s logo, and feeling genuinely disappointed when they lose. This loyalty can also include not being overly fond of another team or its members – but this “dislike” comes more from a healthy competitive nature not from a judgment of the individual’s worth as a person. This kind of fanaticism can be all well and good as long as the person keeps everything in perspective: it is after all just a game, and these are human beings who we are cheering for or against.
There are other sports fanatics who take their supposed loyalty a bit further. The teams they follow become the central focus of their lives. They spend more time at games or in front of TVs than they do with their families or fulfilling job requirements. For these people Sundays are for ESPN not God. Being a fan is a good thing…as long as it doesn’t become all-consuming and lead people away from more important commitments in their lives.
And then there are those who allow their “love of the game” to overpower their emotions. We have all seen images of people being trampled to death as mobs of people storm a World Cup soccer field. There are stories of people starting fights in the stands that lead to real injury – sometimes even death. And, perhaps more frequently, there are those who feel free to scream every thought that comes to mind – and usually the words used are less than tasteful.
So, what does the Church say about sports fanaticism? Here would be my thoughts:
1) All things in moderation; don’t let sports (or sports figures!) become an idol of sorts;
2) All people are created in God’s image and likeness – even the guy on the other team who just scored the winning touchdown, even the woman wearing the opposing team’s t-shirt;
3) Do unto others as you would want done unto you (how ’bout that for a teaching!).