Loyola Marymount University will host the second regional Sport at the Service of Humanity conference this summer, bringing together scholars, athletes, academics, clergy, and other guests with an interest in how sports can unite people and effect positive change in the world.
The event, scheduled for June 20-21 on the LMU campus, will feature speakers, panels, and breakout groups focused on building a global movement to use the power of faith and sports for social good. It is co-sponsored by the West Coast Conference and LA84 Foundation.
“With excitement we partner with the West Coast Conference to enkindle the vision set forth by the Vatican. We are eager to fortify Pope Francis’ vision of how sports and faith coalesce their influence to serve society,” said LMU President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D. “As we discover and live the Vatican’s ‘Declaration of Principles’ of balance, compassion, enlightenment, joy, love, and respect, we will continue to embolden our athletes and propel our mission as a Jesuit and Marymount university with pride and impact.”
The annual conference grew out of an initiative launched by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, which held the first global conference in 2016. That event included two days of intensive conversation among a variety of stakeholders, focused on how sport and faith can drive positive social change. The discussion centered around three themes: inspiration, inclusion, and involvement, and how sports participation and fandom can build and nurture all three.
The 2018 event will build on the successes of last year’s regional conference, which was held at Villanova University. There, participants agreed to create a working group to build up the Sport at the Service of Humanity initiative at the collegiate level, including promoting athletic programs that support student-athletes in becoming their “whole selves” and building a culture that nurtures all parts of the student-athlete, including faith and spirituality, among others.
“The positive aspects of participating in sports are often spoken of with terms like dedication, teamwork, and grit,” said John Sebastian, vice president for mission and ministry at LMU. “What we want to explore, through this conference and the conversations that it leads to, are ways our culture can more intentionally direct those and other benefits of sports toward personal moral development and the pursuit of the common good.”
“The LA84 Foundation is honored to co-sponsor the Sport at the Service of Humanity Conference,” said LA84 Foundation President & CEO Renata Simril, who attended the 2016 conference at the Vatican and chairs the June 2018 conference’s Programming Committee. “The LA84 Foundation focuses on youth development through sport, and on bringing people together by closing the play equity gap, leveling the playing field, and getting girls in the game. We salute the decision for this year’s conference to focus on youth sports.”
Said William Husak, director of athletics at LMU: “We have a rare opportunity to focus on sport and its potential to impact youth and those on the margins.”
This year’s conference will expand from last year’s focus on collegiate sports into the realm of youth sports—at the high school, middle school, and independent club sport levels. Millions of Americans have played high school sports, and their exploits are in many cases covered by mainstream news media. Additionally, nearly 40 percent of U.S. children ages 6-12 regularly play an organized team sport of some kind, according to a report from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
“Building on the foundation that was laid at last year’s Villanova conference will bring us closer to realizing the aims of the Pontifical Council for Culture in creating the Sport at the Service of Humanity initiative: to celebrate the value of sport, its capacity to bring joy to participants and observers; its ability to promote wellbeing; and its role in creating bridges between people” said Bishop Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
The event will be held at the LMU campus, in the newly opened, award-winning Life Sciences Building. Invitations will be sent to administrators, academics, and influencers from college athletics departments, youth sports organizations, and others on the West Coast and from around the world.