Professional sports are becoming increasingly violent and unethical. More and more we hear of serious injuries like head concussions, bribing and kickback scandals, rampant steroid use, intimidation and other forms of cheating. Sport, in fact, now typifies the worst aspects of the entertainment business more than it resembles healthy competition.
To combat this hedonistic "win at all costs" syndrome, Italy's Centro Sportivo Italiano, established by the Catholic lay movement Catholic Action, recently purchased 80 percent of the Italian soccer club AC Ancona. Under the new ownership home game prices will be cheaper and profits from the ballclub will fund charitable work in the Third World.
Catholic Action has also implemented new club rules whereby fans will be forbidden to taunt and insult opponents, and offensive banners will be prohibited in the stands. Players will even face mandatory volunteer work for foul play on the field. The goal of the project is to bring morals to sport, to reintroduce ethics to an area that is experiencing a crisis of values. We can all learn from this initiative.
If local amateur and professional sports clubs alike followed the example of Catholic Action and began operating as ethics-friendly charitable organizations, not only will the players and fans benefit but so also will the poor. Furthermore, sport itself will return to its glory days of authenticity and respectability.