Photo by Markus Spiske via

Vatican II acknowledged the communal good of athletics, in that “physical exercise and sport help to create harmony of feeling even on the level of the community as well as foster friendly relations between men of all classes, countries, and races” (Gaudium et Spes, 61). Moreover, a person’s physical, moral, and intellectual endowments must be developed harmoniously with an eye toward freedom and virtue. Because the integral formation of the human person is central to Catholic education, athletics can serve its goal to help students develop virtue and harmonize mind, body, and will. Because athletics is such a powerful influence on both individuals and cultures, it can also pose a threat when it does not serve truth or does not serve to praise God.

See also: Sexuality and Gender



The Newman Society is grateful to to Dr. Bill Thierfelder, president of Belmont Abbey College, for presenting a webinar in October 2018 on sport and virtue to athletic directors and coaches at faithful Catholic schools and colleges.


Dr. Denise Donohue and Dr. Dan Guernsey of The Cardinal Newman Society identify practical steps that Catholic schools and colleges can take to strengthen Catholic identity in their athletic programs.