Reflect on the significance of the modern Olympics and the value of competitive sports in the formation of personality
Reflect on the significance of the modern Olympics
Look back on the significance of the modern Olympics and the value of competitive sports in the formation of personality
They were pretty much the idea of this man
Baron Pierre de Courbertin
Back in the late 19th century, professional sports pretty much dominated sports competition in every event. Sports, therefore, was concerned about one thing – money.
de Coubertin wanted to create a competition for amateur athletes, who at that time simply weren’t good enough to compete against professional athletes. He hoped that this would encourage amateur athletics everywhere.
Now, a bit of this was elitist. In the 19th century, most good professional athletes were from wealthy families. You probably know about the cricket rivalry between the UK and Australia. At the time, Australian cricketers were generally paid professionals. UK cricketers were usually gentlemen who play for the beauty of the game – and were paid under the table so they usually made more than the professional cricketers anyway. UK cricketers were “posh”. Australian cricketers were “ruffians”.
It was more of a class struggle than a national one.
Now, the Olympics did encourage several amateur athletes, but many events were dominate by rich people in the early days. They could afford to train and travel. Really excellent athletes, like Jim Thorpe, found it tough to compete on those terms. In fact, Thorpe lost two gold medals because he accepted money to play baseball (the IOC restored his medals after Thorpe died, and the second place finishers were never comfortable about it because Thorpe was so much better).
Now, they’re largely hold to provide prestige to the countries that hold them. Athletes in the primary sports get sponsorships and, if they can’t spend all the money on training, they can keep it once they give up their amateur status. Many of the athletes are clearly professionals. I don’t like watching them much anymore.
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