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Youth Sport and Spirituality

Youth Sport and Spirituality

Catholic Perspectives

Edited by Patrick Kelly, SJ

Unsportsmanlike behavior by student athletes or parents at youth sporting events happens with regularity these days. Much recent research reveals that young people are dropping out of sport at alarming rates due to the often toxic elements in the culture of youth sports. The timely, innovative essays in Youth Sport and Spirituality present a wide-ranging overview that draws on resources from Catholic spiritual and theological traditions to address problems such as these, as well as opportunities in youth sport in the United States. 

The book consists of two sections. In the first, prominent scholars in philosophy, psychology, theology, and spirituality reflect on how youth sport contributes to the integral development of the person and his or her grasp of spiritual values. The second half of the book consists of chapters written by coaches, athletic directors, and specialists working with youth coaches. These practitioners share how their approaches to working with youth in sport contribute to the integral development of their players and their openness to transcendent values. The essays examine coaching as ministry, youth sport and moral development, and how parents can act as partners in youth sports, among other topics. The book will interest coaches, athletic directors, and youth ministers in Catholic elementary and high schools in parish settings, as well as undergraduate and graduate students in education who are preparing to teach in Catholic schools. 

Contributors: Patrick Kelly, SJ, Daniel A. Dombrowski, Nicole M. LaVoi, Mike McNamee, Clark Power, David Light Shields, Brenda Light Bredemeier, Richard R. Gaillardetz, Kristin Komyatte Sheehan, Dobie Moser, Jim Yerkovich, Sherri Retif, James Charles Naggi, and Edward Hastings.

“This is a much-needed and very important book. As the first book of this kind in the English speaking world it will be welcomed by a range of individuals involved in sport. The book’s unique contribution is that it is the first time academics, coaches, and others have explicitly drawn on Catholic accounts from a range of disciplines to inform ideas on youth sport. We already have some excellent work on this topic informed by ideas from secular accounts and those of other Christian denominations; a Catholic perspective will be of great interest to those of that faith and of great importance to others who have little awareness of or do not fully understand this view.” — Mark Stephen Nesti, Liverpool John Moores University

“Fr. Patrick Kelly offers a prophetic voice reminding us that balance, ethical values, and joy be at the heart of youth sports. Offering both academic and practical inspiration, this book calls all athletes, coaches, and parents to integrate competition with character, winning with wisdom, fitness with fun, and sports with spirituality.” — Mike Hughes, Athletic Director, Jesuit High School

“A delightful, practical and inspirational collection of essays on the spiritually formative aspects of youth sports: the ways they might teach self-transcendence, build character and allow participants to experience the sheer creative joy of play, a crucial dimension of spiritual maturity too often ignored in ‘serious’ treatments of both spiritual formation and sports.” — Wendy M. Wright, Creighton University

“Unsportsmanlike behavior by student athletes or parents at youth sporting events happens with regularly these days. The timely, innovative essays in Youth Sport and Spirituality present a wide-ranging overview that draws on resources from Catholic spiritual and theological traditions to address problems…as well as opportunities in youth sport in the United States.” — Studies in Spirituality

ISBN: 978-0-268-02403-1
320 pages
Publication Year: 2015

Pdf   Download Table of Contents

Patrick Kelly, SJ, is associate professor of theology and religious studies at Seattle University. He is the author of Catholic Perspectives on Sports: From Medieval to Modern Times.

“. . . An insightful resource for coaches, athletic directors, youth ministers, and others. Youth Sport and Spirituality uses an engaging blend of history, theology, spiritual reflection, and cultural commentary to examine how playing sports can foster personal growth for young people. The topics addressed show an acute understanding, from sports’ many benefits to children as well as some of the uglier issues, such as win-at-all-costs mentalities and aggression toward officials. The chapters present nuanced arguments; indeed, some contributors even respectfully disagree with each other on important questions, such as whether sport truly builds positive character traits or if children should receive equal playing time.” — U.S. Catholic

“It is clear that the authors believe sports participation goes beyond physical and character building to moral, spiritual, and community building. All want to retain the spirit and joy of play in games and contests. Many use examples from real athletes to illustrate the rewards and virtues that inhabit sports . . . This book will enrich any reader who enjoys athletics, especially regarding youth in Catholic contexts.” — Catholic World Library

“Youth Sport and Spirituality is an excellent book that could become a handbook for anyone involved in or merely interested in sports for young people. In his conclusion, Kelly presents his belief that ‘maybe the time has arrived for . . . youth sport organizations to reclaim play and recover the joy that should rightly be a part of youth sport.’” — Sooner Catholic

“The [second section] places youth sports within the family context; indeed, family . . . is placed at the top of the spirituality list. Youth sport is seen throughout in a ‘context where self-transcendence can occur.’ This is a welcome volume in a world in which sports are too often self-centered, and the attitude is ‘win first’.” — Choice

“In an age when an increasing number of Americans find themselves on ball fields on Sunday mornings either watching or participating in the ritual of sports, rather than in the pews, Jesuit Father Patrick Kelly offers a much-needed perspective to place sport in its proper context. . . Fr. Kelly’s thoughtful analysis and perspective makes coaches, athletes and parents alike co-creators in the development of youth through the participation of sports.” — Catholic Missourian

“Unsportsmanlike behavior by student athletes or parents at youth sporting events happens with regularly these days. The timely, innovative essays in Youth Sport and Spirituality present a wide-ranging overview that draws on resources from Catholic spiritual and theological traditions to address problems . . . as well as opportunities in youth sport in the United States.” — Studies in Spirituality

Pdf   Download Excerpt

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Youth Sport and Spirituality

Catholic Perspectives


Edited by Patrick Kelly, SJ

 Youth Sport and Spirituality: Catholic Perspectives
Cloth Edition
Paper Edition

Unsportsmanlike behavior by student athletes or parents at youth sporting events happens with regularity these days. Much recent research reveals that young people are dropping out of sport at alarming rates due to the often toxic elements in the culture of youth sports. The timely, innovative essays in Youth Sport and Spirituality present a wide-ranging overview that draws on resources from Catholic spiritual and theological traditions to address problems such as these, as well as opportunities in youth sport in the United States. 

The book consists of two sections. In the first, prominent scholars in philosophy, psychology, theology, and spirituality reflect on how youth sport contributes to the integral development of the person and his or her grasp of spiritual values. The second half of the book consists of chapters written by coaches, athletic directors, and specialists working with youth coaches. These practitioners share how their approaches to working with youth in sport contribute to the integral development of their players and their openness to transcendent values. The essays examine coaching as ministry, youth sport and moral development, and how parents can act as partners in youth sports, among other topics. The book will interest coaches, athletic directors, and youth ministers in Catholic elementary and high schools in parish settings, as well as undergraduate and graduate students in education who are preparing to teach in Catholic schools. 

Contributors: Patrick Kelly, SJ, Daniel A. Dombrowski, Nicole M. LaVoi, Mike McNamee, Clark Power, David Light Shields, Brenda Light Bredemeier, Richard R. Gaillardetz, Kristin Komyatte Sheehan, Dobie Moser, Jim Yerkovich, Sherri Retif, James Charles Naggi, and Edward Hastings.

“This is a much-needed and very important book. As the first book of this kind in the English speaking world it will be welcomed by a range of individuals involved in sport. The book’s unique contribution is that it is the first time academics, coaches, and others have explicitly drawn on Catholic accounts from a range of disciplines to inform ideas on youth sport. We already have some excellent work on this topic informed by ideas from secular accounts and those of other Christian denominations; a Catholic perspective will be of great interest to those of that faith and of great importance to others who have little awareness of or do not fully understand this view.” — Mark Stephen Nesti, Liverpool John Moores University

“Fr. Patrick Kelly offers a prophetic voice reminding us that balance, ethical values, and joy be at the heart of youth sports. Offering both academic and practical inspiration, this book calls all athletes, coaches, and parents to integrate competition with character, winning with wisdom, fitness with fun, and sports with spirituality.” — Mike Hughes, Athletic Director, Jesuit High School

“A delightful, practical and inspirational collection of essays on the spiritually formative aspects of youth sports: the ways they might teach self-transcendence, build character and allow participants to experience the sheer creative joy of play, a crucial dimension of spiritual maturity too often ignored in ‘serious’ treatments of both spiritual formation and sports.” — Wendy M. Wright, Creighton University

“Unsportsmanlike behavior by student athletes or parents at youth sporting events happens with regularly these days. The timely, innovative essays in Youth Sport and Spirituality present a wide-ranging overview that draws on resources from Catholic spiritual and theological traditions to address problems…as well as opportunities in youth sport in the United States.” — Studies in Spirituality

ISBN: 978-0-268-02403-1

320 pages

“. . . An insightful resource for coaches, athletic directors, youth ministers, and others. Youth Sport and Spirituality uses an engaging blend of history, theology, spiritual reflection, and cultural commentary to examine how playing sports can foster personal growth for young people. The topics addressed show an acute understanding, from sports’ many benefits to children as well as some of the uglier issues, such as win-at-all-costs mentalities and aggression toward officials. The chapters present nuanced arguments; indeed, some contributors even respectfully disagree with each other on important questions, such as whether sport truly builds positive character traits or if children should receive equal playing time.” — U.S. Catholic

“It is clear that the authors believe sports participation goes beyond physical and character building to moral, spiritual, and community building. All want to retain the spirit and joy of play in games and contests. Many use examples from real athletes to illustrate the rewards and virtues that inhabit sports . . . This book will enrich any reader who enjoys athletics, especially regarding youth in Catholic contexts.” — Catholic World Library

“Youth Sport and Spirituality is an excellent book that could become a handbook for anyone involved in or merely interested in sports for young people. In his conclusion, Kelly presents his belief that ‘maybe the time has arrived for . . . youth sport organizations to reclaim play and recover the joy that should rightly be a part of youth sport.’” — Sooner Catholic

“The [second section] places youth sports within the family context; indeed, family . . . is placed at the top of the spirituality list. Youth sport is seen throughout in a ‘context where self-transcendence can occur.’ This is a welcome volume in a world in which sports are too often self-centered, and the attitude is ‘win first’.” — Choice

“In an age when an increasing number of Americans find themselves on ball fields on Sunday mornings either watching or participating in the ritual of sports, rather than in the pews, Jesuit Father Patrick Kelly offers a much-needed perspective to place sport in its proper context. . . Fr. Kelly’s thoughtful analysis and perspective makes coaches, athletes and parents alike co-creators in the development of youth through the participation of sports.” — Catholic Missourian

“Unsportsmanlike behavior by student athletes or parents at youth sporting events happens with regularly these days. The timely, innovative essays in Youth Sport and Spirituality present a wide-ranging overview that draws on resources from Catholic spiritual and theological traditions to address problems . . . as well as opportunities in youth sport in the United States.” — Studies in Spirituality