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Jesuit High School Leaders on the Relation between Sports Programs and Ignatian Identity: A Narrative Inquiry Open Access

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Throughout the nearly 500 year history of Jesuit education, the system of schooling established by the Society of Jesus according to the spirituality and pedagogy of their founder St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), academic rigor, character formation in faith and justice, and extra-curricular offerings in diverse areas of human culture have been hallmarks of the schools. In addition to extra-curriculars such as theater and the rhetorical arts, physical exercise and sports have been integral aspects of Jesuit education from the beginning. However, scant research exists in contemporary theory and practice on the relation between sports and Ignatian identity in Jesuit high schools in the United States. This narrative inquiry collected and analyzed narratives of experience from six participant Jesuit high school leaders from two school sites on how sports, on the one hand, connects with and enhances Ignatian identity, and on the other, comes into tension with Ignatian identity. These narratives of experience 1) expanded the meaning-making resources available for Jesuit high school leaders’ sensemaking and sensegiving on the relation between sports programs and Ignatian identity, 2) gave voice to the potential spiritual and educative qualities of sports experience alongside the pertinent social and ethical issues connected to youth sports in the United States, and 3) highlighted the complex dynamics of organizational identification and Ignatian identification among leaders in Jesuit high schools.

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