Sports Eye

The athlete in Saint John Paul II 

Jess Garcia

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

SAINT John Paul II I believe was the most popular and beloved pope among Filipinos. Yes, he was the only pope of the Roman Catholic Church who visited the Philippines twice. I guess this is the reason why the Filipinos adored him dearly knowing that the fellow from Poland also loved the Filipino people so much and spent his precious days here two times and mingled with our countrymen especially the poor ones, in 1981 and 1995.

Those followed his visits here on television and newspapers noted how Filipinos became emotionally attached, especially during his second visit. Without a doubt, Filipinos were happy to see their beloved pope finally canonized last April 27 together with Pope John XXIII.

Born as Karol Josef Wojtyla on May 18, 1920 in Wadowice, Poland, Saint John Paul II was an athletic person during his younger days with so much love for swimming, running, skiing, kayaking. He was also a football player, the number one favorite sport of the Polish people. He was the first pope to sit in the grandstand of the stadium to watch some games being an avid football fan.

Once he wrote, “sport reveals not only a man’s physical abilities, but also his intellectual and spiritual capacities.” I agree. He also said that sports is not only a joy of life, but also the study of peaceful coexistence and openness to other cultures.

And because of his deep love for sports, during his reign as a pope he also welcomed players in all kinds of sports in his residence including boxer Muhammad Ali, and Formula 1 world champion, the German Michael Schumacher.

He condemns doping, violent behavior, commercialization which in the end betrays sports’ true intention, particularly if it serves interests that overlook the central role of an athlete in a society. He emphasized that the mission of sports in the modern world is to provide young athletes with values promoting loyalty, perseverance, camaraderie, cooperation and harmony.

Perhaps, it was his athletic days that helped him survive the assassination attempt in 1981. His sports activities and his regular body tune-up at the gym must have done wonders for him to survive after being two bullets were fired into his body.

I believe Saint John Paul II was the most athletic from among all the pontiffs we’ve known in the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

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There are fresh reports that our national boxing treasure Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao is ready to don PBA’s new expanded team KIA jersey as a playing-coach, that’s if PBAs honchos will pick him in the Rookie Draft scheduled in August. Pacquiao’s imminent stint is reportedly part of an arrangement where the boxing icon will become the new image model for KIA vehicles in the country and in Asia. Well, this is his personal right, but I believe this will do him more harm than good. Good because as a basketball player, it will help enhance his stamina and improve his reflexes. I did that too during my cycling days and it helped me. But it can be bad because there’s a very big possibility that Pacman can suffer a foot or hand injury in the future that will end his sterling career sooner than expected. It took me more than a year to recover from an injury.

It should be ok for to him to be a coach but to play against these giants in the PBA would be tempting fate needlessly.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. JEREMIAH 29: 11-13

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