“Ask a Priest: Is Pole Vaulting Too Dangerous a Sport?”

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Q: Would it be a sin to play a potentially dangerous sport? I am thinking about pole vaulting in the spring, but after researching it, the sport seems somewhat dangerous. Just the same, the pole vaulting coach at my high school is very careful, and it seems like he takes many precautions to assure the safety of those on the team. -C.W.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It is good that you are concerned about the relatively safety of a sport. The Catechism in No. 2288 says, “Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.”

Now, there is no hard-and-fast rule about whether to engage in pole vaulting. Life often involves a trade-off of risks and benefits. In this case the trade-off is between safety and the benefits to be gained by, say, the physical conditioning, personal discipline, and team camaraderie that might be demanded or cultivated by the sport.

Perhaps, too, there is the chance of a scholarship connected with this sport. Or maybe it would give you a (relatively) healthy outlet for energy.

On the other side, you might see what research shows – whether this is a sport with a lot of serious injuries, for instance. You might also consider how your decision would affect others. For instance, is your family depending on you for support for younger siblings or aging relatives? Your decision could have a ripple effect, in other words.

These are all factors to consider. You might try doing your research, drawing up a list of pros and cons, and take all this to prayer. And see where the Holy Spirit is guiding you. Then, make a tentative decision, and pray on that choice for a few days. If your original decision seems to leave you at peace, then proceed as you will. I hope this helps.

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