So, yeah, the Pope wrote a letter to the NHL praising them for their adoption of a Declaration of Principles. Yes, that pontiff, Pope Frankie!
Everybody loves the Pope. I’m not even close to being Catholic, but I love Frankie!
Anyway, let’s get back to the subject at hand. Last year, former NHLer Pat LaFontaine traveled to the Vatican to attend a conference on Sports for the Service of Humanity. From this conference, a set of principles about sport was developed.
Here is what the document says:
Hockey participation offers families value beyond making an individual a better player or even a better
athlete. The game of hockey is a powerful platform for participants to build character, foster positive
values and develop important life skills. These benefits are available to all players, desirable to every
family and transcend the game.
• Hockey should be an enjoyable family experience; all stakeholders— organizations, players,
parents, siblings, coaches, referees, volunteers and rink operators — play a role in this effort.
• Hockey’s greatest value is the role it plays in the development of character and life skills.
• All hockey organizations—regardless of size or level of competition — bring value to players
and families in their ability to deliver a positive family experience.
• Physical activity is important for a healthy body, mind and spirit.
• There are significant benefits of youth participation in multiple sports.
• Hockey programs should be age-appropriate for all players, accounting for each individual’s physical,
emotional and cognitive development.
• There is great value in all forms of hockey, both on and off the ice.
• All hockey programs should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families
regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and socioeconomic
status. Simply put, hockey is for everyone.
We believe in our ability to improve lives and strengthen communities globally through hockey.
We believe that living by these Principles will provide a healthy, balanced and enjoyable experience
for all and inspire impactful service beyond the rink.
It’s important to note that not only the NHL adopted this but 18 other international hockey leagues as well.
The document is pretty self-explanatory, so I’m not going to dive deep into it. We know hat hockey is a sport that is great and fun but can also price kids out at early levels of play just on the cost of equipment alone. It remains to be seen how hockey can address this issue.
As for what the Pope actually said, there was an excerpt that was released.
“His holiness Pope Francis was pleased to learn that an international group of hockey organizations has chosen formally to adopt the Declaration of Principles that emerged from last year’s global conference on Sports for the Service of Humanity. His holiness trusts that this significant gesture will inspire greater appreciation of the pivotal role that’s played by sports and sportsmanship in training future generations to pursue personal excellence and to promote spiritual values of teamwork, solidarity, and mutual respect so necessary for building a more just and fraternal world.
It’s still pretty freakin cool to get a letter from Frankie from Vatican City.