Il movimento sportivo cattolico in Italia fra Ottocento e Novecento
N. 3, LUGLIO-SETTEMBRE
The Catholic sports movement in Italy from the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries
The relationship between Church and sport is less unusual than it might seem. This essay reconstructs the story of the encounter between sport and the Catholic world and, in particular, highlights the role played by the Church, which early on grasped sports’ potential as a means rather than an end. Catholic sport was born around the middle of the nineteenth century as an activity developed by church youth centres. At the beginning, sport was merely considered a form of entertainment useful to keep young people from spending their leisure time in a variety of «improper» ways. Soon, however, starting from the pontificate of Leo XIII, it acquired strategic value under the project of the Christian re-conquest of society; eventually, during the Fascist period, it became a tool to claim a hegemonic role for the Church in the education of youth.