‘Panem et circenses!’ – Bread and Olympic games! It was said so about the times of the reign of the great Roman Empire. For, the most important thing for the Roman commonalty was food – hence such a frequent giveaway of corn during the Olympic games by rich citizens who wanted to gain popularity for their political activity – and also the Olympic games, mostly the fights of gladiators, very popular among spectators. Therefore, the rulers of those times were trying to organise as many such Olympic games as possible, which softened social suspense, softened emotions and filled free time.

If we compare a situation of prehistoric people of Rome with the life of the contemporary societies, we will notice many similarities. Today arena is replaced by omnipresent TV sets, focusing people like a magnet to popular serials, action films or just sport entertainments. Everything is good if there is no exaggeration in it and if nothing is accompanied by neglects of important matters or corruption.

Surely one would be condemned immediately if he had courage to have a critical attitude towards this all which is happening in Poland, in Europe and all over the world around sport masters. However, we cannot omit economic crisis resulting in unemployment and poverty. So many children are still dying from hunger and so many people have nowhere to live and there are so many tears. There are still no medicaments for cancer diseases spreading devastation because there is no money for education. Wherever you look, you will see the need for changes which are impossible to introduce without money. So we cannot exaggerate in financing sport competitions.

It would be good if we were aware of the seriousness of the situations which are participations of our neighbours and often of our families and friends. A kind of strange lack of sensitivity and lack of imagination often strike at us, while really big money is easily spent on creating something which is only a temporary event, which does not concern all citizens because not everyone is interested in sport. We understand a need of relax and reasonable competition and we also respect and appreciate a great sport and effort of people who ambitiously train and make hard preparations for sport events. Certainly, we wish so that the best ones may win and we enjoy their achievements and gained prizes. We are really glad when Polish sportsmen win and show their highest level. We know that successes in sport belong to important achievements of a man and they are sometimes at the cost of health. But we also painfully experience a situation when in this sphere there are some abnormalities, if an effort of a competitor, coach or a sport activist is wasted by bribery, corruption and venality.

We are aware that sport activity is not an easy job but it is also a media of this all which contributes to the human character development. One who does great sport stunts, deserves medals and applause. But also one who realizes physical activity on a lower level, deserves appreciation. A young boy or a girl engaged in sport activity and taking up a regular physical effort, also rouse admiration and respect. For, first of all, demanding from themselves, they train their character, try to do more ambitious things and contribute to the development of strength both of an individual and the nation. So, it is not enough to be only a sports fan, be able to applaud, while sitting on tribunes of stadiums or in front of TV. One must participate in the physical development. It is especially important as far as young people are concerned, so that they would not be brought up into molluscs, but people emanating with a vital and spiritual strength, as it is known - a healthy spirit in a healthy body. If we have such citizens, our whole life, including the economic one, will be better and will have a chance for development.

So, when we look at the idea of Olympic games, on the one hand, we must certainly allow for our emotions, especially of patriotic character, but on the other hand we cannot just limit only to a role of a sports fan or not perceive life outside sport, which is much more important. Let’s remember that besides sport, there are many matters which are dealt with by the parliament, there are matters concerning the whole national life, there are people needing help, by whom we cannot pass indifferently.

Sport goes its own way, but it is impossible to cheat life. So, when we hear: ‘Panem et circenses!’ – Bread and Olympic games!, let’s remember first of all that this everyday bread, that is, the basic security of life are needed by all people. In a situation when we are impelled to call for Olympic games, we should know that there is also another man near us, our neighbour in whom Christ is present.


"Niedziela" 21/2012

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl