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Pope backs hockey’s effort to make positive changes in sports culture


Andreas Solaro | AFP

Patty Knap - published on 09/16/17

17 organizations have signed on to a new Declaration, and a letter from Rome lauds the effort.

The NHL, NHLPA and 15 hockey organizations came together two weeks ago to sign off on a new Declaration of Principles, which is directed at developing and promoting positive changes in sports culture.

Pope Francis took note of the initiative, and an endorsement letter was sent on his behalf to the NHL in support of it.

The Declaration lists beliefs that work to make hockey “build character, foster positive values, and develop important life skills.”

As much as the Principles are about encouraging new families to get involved with hockey and supporting those already involved, they’re also aimed at getting kids involved in sports in general to maintain better health, learn life-long lessons and nurture friendships.

Seventeen organizations have signed on to the declaration,
The letter from Rome said:
“His Holiness, Pope Francis, was pleased to learn that an international group of hockey organizations has chosen formally to adopt the declaration of principles that emerged from last year’s global conference. His Holiness trusts that this significant gesture will inspire greater appreciation for the pivotal role that’s played by sports and sportsmanship in training future generations to pursue personal excellence and to promote the spiritual values of teamwork, solidarity and mutual respect that are so necessary.”

Last year, the NHL’s Pat Lafontaine was invited to the Vatican to attend a conference on sports for the service of humanity. That trip and conference at least in part led to the new Declaration of Principles.

The Declaration, signed by 17 hockey organizations, reads:

We Believe: 1. Hockey should be an enjoyable family experience; all stakeholders – organizations, players, parents, siblings, coaches, referees, volunteers and rink operators – play a role in this effort. 2. Hockey’s greatest value is the role it plays in the development of character and life skills. 3. All hockey organizations – regardless of size or level of competition – bring value to players and families in their ability to deliver a positive family experience. 4. Physical activity is important for a healthy body, mind and spirit. 5. There are significant benefits of youth participation in multiple sports. 6. Hockey programs should be age-appropriate for all players, accounting for each individual’s physical, emotional and cognitive development. 7. There is great value in all forms of hockey, both on and off the ice. 8. All hockey programs should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. Simply put, hockey is for everyone. We believe in our ability to improve lives and strengthen communities globally through hockey. We believe that living by these Principles will provide a healthy, balanced and enjoyable experience for all and inspire impactful service beyond the rink.
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