This magazine's half decade of existence looms but insignificantly in time and portent beside the long and fruitful life of the sports lover shown here. Nevertheless, during the years we shared with His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, this magazine was more than once privileged to illumine its pages with the light shed by this most modern and sympathetic of Popes on the field of its own particular preoccupation.
The world of sport as such is not and can never be the major concern of the Holy See, yet Pius XII time and again proved his right to the title, friend of sport. An enthusiastic swimmer and horseman in his younger days, he lent the full prestige of the papacy to Italy's postwar sports renascence. As ardently as any other Italian sportsman and patriot, he looked forward to Rome's welcome of the world's greatest athletes in the 1960 Olympiad. He was, incidentally, the first Pope to install a gymnasium in the Vatican itself.
Pius XII's reflections on sport, many of which we were able to share with our readers, were invariably lit by the understanding of one who saw in the clean pursuit of sport something more than mere recreation in the popular sense of the word. "Power and harmony, order and beauty, effort, victory and the renown of achieving a record...these are the ideal goals longed for by every athlete," said the Pontiff three years ago this month. "Technique alone not only impedes the acquirement of those spiritual boons which sport has for its aim to achieve but, even when leading to victory, satisfies neither him who employs it nor those who watch. Whenever there is a question of human activity, the spirit must predominate over technique."
Now that Pius XII is gone, we at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED would like to think that we shared with him not only a brief coexistence but a deep respect as well for the idea that sport corresponds to important elements in spiritual man; elements that must neither be devalued in principle nor debased in practice. Here, in Pius' own words, are some standards to strive for: "Loyalty that excludes taking refuge in subterfuges, docility and obedience to the director charged with the training of the team, the spirit of self-renunciation when one has to fade into the background to further the interests of the team, fidelity to obligations undertaken, modesty in victory, serenity in adverse fortune, patience toward spectators who are not always moderate...and in general that chastity and temperance recommended by the ancients themselves."