Rio Olympics: "I do say a prayer -- or two -- before any race," Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky says.
Never let practice and competition get in the way of going to Mass, studying for school, being with friends and helping the poor, Pope Francis told an Italian sports association.
And never let Italy's infatuation with soccer -- like in the pope's native Argentina -- crowd out all the other sports, which are just as important for teaching kids the benefits of teamwork and sacrifice, he said Thursday.
"One in four Americans believe ... that the hand of God will be seen before the final whistle blows in the Super Bowl."
A recently formed cricket team from the Vatican may need some divine intervention as it gets ready to take on more experienced English players at a historic game Saturday.
The Vatican team will play against the British Army chaplains as part of a "Light of Faith" tour at the Kent County Cricket Club, a stone's throw away from Canterbury Cathedral, where it will play again next week against the Church of England's team.
"The match is an occasion for raising funds for solidarity projects, but above all [for promoting] values that draw people together, no matter what their culture or religious creed."
The World Cup, which opens today, "overcomes linguistic, cultural and national barriers," the pope said.
Pope Francis urged athletes to live life the same way they play sports: Don't hog the ball, don't fall back on defense, and make sure to keep it fun.
He also called on policymakers and communities to guarantee all kids have access to sports, education and jobs early on in life, "and I guarantee that there will be no addictions to drugs, alcohol and many other vices."
March Madness: A time when Catholic institutions hit the national spotlight not for their theology programs, but for their basketball teams.
NCR Today: "What now amounts to a virtual blackout on anything but football on Sunday afternoons means the end of that tiny culture ghetto."