The coarse feel of the rock face on the hands, the smell of the grass turf, the breeze of the wind while in motion all speak to the profound connection athletes have with their environment. In Michael Novak’s book, The Joy of Sport, he refers to it as Sacred Space. Part 1 of the Spirit of Sport series is a short but important part in grounding us and the athletes in the place where the sport lives. In essence it highlights the importance of the physical space where any kind of serious play happens.

What gives that space meaning? I for one have felt the thrill of standing in an empty soccer field. Of course it isn’t the patch of grass with lines marked out and a couple of nets that give it meaning. The thrill comes from our memories and anticipation of victory and loss. Sometimes the space is passive, willing to let the athletes play their game. Other times, it cruelly interferes testing the players with rain and (at least in Calgary) snow.

Do you have a memory of a sacred space? Or a story of a place that took on greater significance than it could by itself?

NEXT: Watch Part 2 – Ignorance