SSH 2017 at Villanova University

Regional Conference

SSH Regional Conference at Villanova Tackles Role of Faith and Collegiate Sport

The role of sport as a catalyst for positive social transformation was at the forefront of discussions at Sport at Service of Humanity: A Regional Conference on Faith and Collegiate Sports that took place June 7 – 8, 2017 at Villanova University.

Eight months to the day that the Vatican concluded its inaugural conference on Sport at the Service of Humanity, Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman stood in a new conference room at Villanova University and asked a simple question: “What can we do to bring out the best in our young people?” Ackerman was leading the first conference to build on the October event in Rome, which centered on six core principles — compassion, respect, love, enlightenment, balance and joy — to enhance the greater good through sports.

The two-day meeting, hosted by Villanova’s Office of Mission and Ministry in conjunction with the Big East, focused solely on intercollegiate athletics. More than 100 leaders representing 28 colleges and universities from largely Catholic schools gathered to tackle the broad but admirable goal of bringing out the best in today’s student athletes by harnessing the power of sport and the role it can play in the educational and personal development process. (Excerpt from Abraham Madkour’s article “Villanova’s Gathering Builds On Vatican Event”, Sport Business Journal, June 19, 2017 )

At the conclusion of the event, conference leaders committed to establishing a working group to build upon the “Sport at the Service of Humanity” initiative at the collegiate level. It was agreed that the following themes would be given further exploration:

  • Athletics programs must continue to support student-athletes in becoming their “whole selves,” with greater attention placed on balancing the student-athlete experience.
  • Assure that institutions’ missions are present in its athletic programs.
  • Build positive culture in athletic programs with a focus on inclusion.
  • Break down silos that can exist for student-athletes, so they thrive as part of the larger campus community.
  • Build a culture that nurtures all parts of the student-athlete, including faith and spirituality.
  • Provide a more balanced college athletics experience that will send graduates out into the world prepared to thrive in all aspects of their lives.