On Saturday morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received members of the Austrian alpine ski team. He pointed out to the athletes that sport requires virtue and that their example serves as a model to the young who are searching for meaning in life.
Speaking German, the Holy Father told them that "when sport is practiced in the right spirit, and with respect for dignity, it helps to promote the development of the person.
"Sport," he added, "helps man to consider his own capacities as a talent and his life as a gift of God. Even when sport is practiced at high levels, it is important to maintain an inner harmony between body and spirit in order not to reduce it to a mere search for results."
The Pope then went on to give a series of virtues "which must always characterize sporting activity: tenacity, a spirit of sacrifice, interior and exterior discipline, ... as well as a sense of justice, awareness of one's own limits and a respect for others. All virtues," he said, "for which you must train yourselves in daily life."
On the subject of sports men and women as a model for the young, Benedict XVI pointed out how, "in a period marked by a loss of values and a lack of orientation, athletes can provide powerful motivations to work in favor of good in the various areas of life, from the family to the workplace."