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New Centre will provide ethical sport

23 August 2007

by Pat Ashworth

A CONFERENCE at York St John University next week will launch the Centre for the Study of Sport and Spirituality (CSSS), which seeks to elevate the spiritual, moral, and ethical dimension of sport above its modern ethos of “win at all costs”.

Lord Hope, the former Archbishop of York, expressed the hope that the new Centre, the first to be established in the Western world, would provide “an opportunity to enable dialogue that integrates personal experience, the academic sports disciplines, and the understanding of human purpose and well-being derived from Christianity and other world faiths”.

Concern about abusive children’s academies in China, exposed in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, have reinforced the need to foster a different culture from “big business” sport, says the University. “Values and belief are often overlooked,” said the director of CSSS, Nick Watson, who described the global response to next week’s conference as “excellent”.

Scholars, coaches, sports chaplains, and athletes from 11 countries will be attending the four-day meeting, including the Revd Richard Pengelley, a former captain of the Australian Olympic polo team, now a university chaplain, lecturer, and cathedral canon; and Dr Mark Nesti, a reader in sports psychology at York St John, and a former counselling psychologist with Bolton Wanderers FC.

Topics to be covered include theological perspectives on disability in sport, spirituality in single-handed sailing, and sectarianism in Scottish football.

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