Pierre de Coubertin
Overview
 
Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin (pjɛʁ də kubɛʁtɛ̃; 1 January 1863 – 2 September 1937) was a French education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

alist and historian, founder of the International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee is an international corporation based in Lausanne, Switzerland, created by Pierre de Coubertin on 23 June 1894 with Demetrios Vikelas as its first president...

, and is considered the father of the modern Olympic Games
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

. Born into a French aristocratic
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 family, he became an academic and studied a broad range of topics, most notably education and history.
Pierre Frédy was born in Paris on 1 January 1863 into an established aristocratic family.
Encyclopedia
Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin (pjɛʁ də kubɛʁtɛ̃; 1 January 1863 – 2 September 1937) was a French education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

alist and historian, founder of the International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee is an international corporation based in Lausanne, Switzerland, created by Pierre de Coubertin on 23 June 1894 with Demetrios Vikelas as its first president...

, and is considered the father of the modern Olympic Games
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

. Born into a French aristocratic
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 family, he became an academic and studied a broad range of topics, most notably education and history.

Early life

Pierre Frédy was born in Paris on 1 January 1863 into an established aristocratic family. He was the fourth child of Baron Charles Louis Frédy, Baron de Coubertin and Marie–Marcelle Gigault de Crisenoy. Family tradition held that the Frédy name had first arrived in France in the early 15th century, and the first recorded title of nobility granted to the family was given by Louis XI
Louis XI of France
Louis XI , called the Prudent , was the King of France from 1461 to 1483. He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the House of Valois....

 to an ancestor, also named Pierre de Frédy, in 1477. But other branches of his family tree delved even further into French history, and the annals of both sides of his family included nobles of various stations, military leaders, and associates of kings and princes of France.
His father Charles was a staunch royalist and accomplished artist whose paintings were displayed and given prizes at the Parisian salon, at least in those years when he was not absent in protest of the rise to power of Louis Napoleon. His paintings often centered around themes related to the Roman Catholic Church, classicism, and nobility, which reflected those things he thought most important. In a later semi-fictional autobiographical piece called Le Roman d'un rallié, Coubertin describes his relationship with both his mother and his father as having been somewhat strained during his childhood and adolescence. His memoirs elaborated further, describing as a pivotal moment his disappointment upon meeting Henri, Count of Chambord, who the elder Coubertin believed to be the rightful king.

Coubertin grew up in a time of profound change in the country France; as a young man he would have seen and heard news of France's defeat during the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

, the Paris Commune
Paris Commune
The Paris Commune was a government that briefly ruled Paris from March 18 to May 28, 1871. It existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists had taken place, and it is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution...

, and the establishment of the French Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

, and would later marry in the midst of the Dreyfus Affair
Dreyfus Affair
The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France in the 1890s and the early 1900s. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent...

. But while these events proved the setting to his childhood, his school experiences were just as formative. In October 1874, his parents enrolled him in a new Jesuit school called Externat de la rue de Vienne, which was still under construction for his first five years there. While many of the school's attendees were day students, Coubertin boarded at the school under the supervision of a Jesuit priest, which his parents hoped would instill him with a strong moral and religious education. There, he was among the top three students in his class, and was an officer of the school's elite academy made up of its best and brightest. This suggests that despite his rebelliousness at home, Coubertin adapted well to the strict rigors of a Jesuit education.

As an aristocrat, Coubertin had a number of career paths from which to choose, including potentially prominent roles in the military or politics. But he chose instead to pursue a career as an intellectual, studying and later writing on a broad range of topics, including education, history, literature, and sociology.

Educational philosophy

The subject which he seems to have been most deeply interested in was education, and his study focused in particular on physical education and the role of sport in schooling. In 1883, he visited England for the first time, and studied the program of physical education instituted by Thomas Arnold
Thomas Arnold
Dr Thomas Arnold was a British educator and historian. Arnold was an early supporter of the Broad Church Anglican movement...

 at the Rugby School
Rugby School
Rugby School is a co-educational day and boarding school located in the town of Rugby, Warwickshire, England. It is one of the oldest independent schools in Britain.-History:...

. Coubertin credited these methods with leading to the expansion of British power during the 19th century and advocated their use in French institutions. The inclusion of physical education in the curriculum of French schools would become an ongoing pursuit and passion of Coubertin's.

In fact, Coubertin is thought to have exaggerated the importance of sport to Thomas Arnold, whom he viewed as “one of the founders of athletic chivalry”. The character-reforming influence of sport with which Coubertin was so impressed is more likely to have originated in the novel Tom Brown's School Days rather than exclusively in the ideas of Arnold himself. Nonetheless, Coubertin was an enthusiast in need of a cause and he found it in England and in Thomas Arnold. “Thomas Arnold, the leader and classic model of English educators,” wrote Coubertin, “gave the precise formula for the role of athletics in education. The cause was quickly won. Playing fields sprang up all over England”.

Intrigued by what he had read about English public schools, in 1883, at the age of twenty, Coubertin went to Rugby
Rugby School
Rugby School is a co-educational day and boarding school located in the town of Rugby, Warwickshire, England. It is one of the oldest independent schools in Britain.-History:...

 and to other English schools to see for himself. He described the results in a book, L’Education en Angleterre, which was published in Paris in 1888. This hero of his book is Thomas Arnold, and on his second visit in 1886, Coubertin reflected on Arnold's influence in the chapel at Rugby School.

What Coubertin saw on the playing fields of Rugby and the other English schools he visited was how “organised sport can create moral and social strength”. Not only did organised games help to set the mind and body in equilibrium, it also prevented the time being wasted in other ways. First developed by the ancient Greeks, it was an approach to education that he felt the rest of the world had forgotten and to whose revival he was to dedicate the rest of his life.

As a historian and a thinker on education, Coubertin romanticized ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

. Thus, when he began to develop his theory of physical education, he naturally looked to the example set by the Athenian
Classical Athens
The city of Athens during the classical period of Ancient Greece was a notable polis of Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Athenian democracy was established in 508 BC under Cleisthenes following the tyranny of Hippias...

 idea of the gymnasium
Gymnasium (ancient Greece)
The gymnasium in ancient Greece functioned as a training facility for competitors in public games. It was also a place for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. The name comes from the Ancient Greek term gymnós meaning "naked". Athletes competed in the nude, a practice said to...

, a training facility that simultaneously encouraged physical and intellectual development. He saw in these gymnasia what he called a triple unity between old and young, between disciplines, and between different types of people, meaning between those whose work was theoreticl and those whose work was practical. Coubertin advocated for these concepts, this triple unity, to be incorporated into schools.

But while Coubertin was certainly a romantic, and while his idealized vision of ancient Greece would lead him later to the idea of reviving the Olympic Games, his advocacy for physical education was based on practical concerns as well. He believed that men who received physical education would be better prepared to fight in wars, and better able to win conflicts like the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

, in which France had been humiliated. Additionally, he also saw sport as democratic, in that sports competition crossed class lines, although it did so without causing a mingling of classes, which he did not support.

Unfortunately for Coubertin, his efforts to incorporate more physical education into French schools failed. The failure of this endeavor, however, was closely followed by the development of a new idea, the revival of the ancient Olympic Games, the creation of a festival of international athleticism.

He was particularly fond of rugby and was the referee of the first ever French championship rugby union
Rugby union
Rugby union, often simply referred to as rugby, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand...

 final on 20 March 1892
French Rugby Championship 1892
French Rugby Championship 1892. On 20 March 1892 the USFSA organised the first ever French rugby union championship, a one off game between Racing Club de France and Stade Français. The game was refereed by Pierre de Coubertin and saw Racing win 4–3. Racing were awarded the Bouclier de Brennus,...

 between Racing Club de France
Racing Club de France
Racing Club de France can refer to:*the former name of Racing Métro rugby union club*the former name of Racing Club de Paris football club*the former name of the basketball club Paris Basket Racing, a predecessor to today's Paris-Levallois Basket...

 and Stade Français.

Reviving the Olympic Games

Some historians describe Coubertin as the instigator of the modern Olympic movement, a man whose vision and political skill led to the revival of the Olympics Games which had been practiced in antiquity. The ancient Olympic Games were held every four years in the Greek city of Olympia
Olympia, Greece
Olympia , a sanctuary of ancient Greece in Elis, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, comparable in importance to the Pythian Games held in Delphi. Both games were held every Olympiad , the Olympic Games dating back possibly further than 776 BC...

, in the Kingdom of Elis
Elis
Elis, or Eleia is an ancient district that corresponds with the modern Elis peripheral unit...

, from 776 BCE through either 261 or 393 AD. While there were a number of other ancient games celebrated in Greece during this time period, including the Pythian
Pythian Games
The Pythian Games were one of the four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, a forerunner of the modern Olympic Games, held every four years at the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi....

, Nemean
Nemean Games
The Nemean Games were one of the four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, and were held at Nemea every two years ....

, and Isthmian Games
Isthmian Games
The Isthmian Games or Isthmia were one of the Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, and were named after the isthmus of Corinth, where they were held...

, Coubertin idealized the Olympic Games as the ultimate ancient athletic competition.
Thomas Arnold, the Head Master of Rugby School, was an important influence on Coubertin's thoughts about education, but his meetings with Dr. William Penny Brookes
William Penny Brookes
Dr. William Penny Brookes was an English surgeon, magistrate, botanist, and educationalist especially known for his promotion of physical education and personal betterment...

 also influenced his thinking about athletic competition to some extent. A trained physician, Brookes believed that the best way to prevent illness was through physical exercise. In 1850, he had initiated a local athletic competition that he referred to as "Meetings of the Olympian Class
Wenlock Olympian Society Annual Games
The Wenlock Olympian Society Annual Games, dating from 1850, are a forerunner of the modern Olympic Games. They are held each year in Much Wenlock in Shropshire, England.-Overview:...

" at the Gaskell recreation ground at Much Wenlock
Much Wenlock
Much Wenlock, earlier known as Wenlock, is a small town in central Shropshire, England. It is situated on the A458 road between Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth. Nearby, to the northeast, is the Ironbridge Gorge, and the new town of Telford...

, Shropshire. Along with the Liverpool Athletic Club, who began holding their own Olympic Festival in the 1860s, Brookes created a National Olympian Association which aimed to encourage such local competition in cities across Britain. These efforts were largely ignored by the British sporting establishment. Brookes also maintained communication with the government and sporting advocates in Greece, seeking a revivial of the Olympic Games internationally under the auspices of the Greek government. There, the philanthropist brothers Evangelos
Evangelos Zappas
Evangelis or Evangelos Zappas was a Greek-Romanian businessman and philanthropist. He is recognized today as a founder of the Olympic Games, who sponsored the Olympic Games of 1859, 1870, and 1875, and preceded the Olympic Games that came under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee...

 and Konstantinos Zappas
Konstantinos Zappas
Konstantinos Zappas was a Greek entrepreneur and national benefactor. Together with his cousin Evangelis Zappas he played an essential role in the revival of the Olympic Games....

 had used their wealth to fund Olympics within Greece, and paid for the restoration of the Panathinaiko Stadium
Panathinaiko Stadium
The Panathinaiko or Panathenaic Stadium , also known as the Kallimarmaro , is an athletic stadium in Athens that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896...

 that was later used during the 1896 Summer Olympics
1896 Summer Olympics
The 1896 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, was a multi-sport event celebrated in Athens, Greece, from April 6 to April 15, 1896. It was the first international Olympic Games held in the Modern era...

. The efforts of Brookes to encourage the internationalization of these games came to naught. However, Dr Brookes did organize a national Olympic Games in London, at Crystal Palace, in 1866 and this was the first Olympics to resemble an Olympic Games to be held outside of Greece. But while others had created Olympic contests within their countries, and broached the idea of international competition, it was Coubertin whose work would lead to the establishment of the International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee is an international corporation based in Lausanne, Switzerland, created by Pierre de Coubertin on 23 June 1894 with Demetrios Vikelas as its first president...

 and the organization of the first modern Olympic Games.

In 1888, Coubertin founded the Comite pour la Propagation des Exercises Physiques more well known as the Comite Jules Simon. Coubertin's earliest reference to the modern notion of Olympic Games criticises the idea. The idea for reviving the Olympic Games as an international competition came to Coubertin in 1889, apparently independently of Brookes, and he spent the following five years organizing an international meeting of athletes and sports enthusiasts that might make it happen. Dr Brookes had organised a national Olympic Games that was held at Crystal Palace in London in 1866. In response to a newspaper appeal, Brookes wrote to Coubertin in 1890, and the two began an exchange of letters on education and sport. That October, Brookes hosted the Frenchman at a special festival held in his honor at Much Wenlock. Although he was too old to attend the 1894 Congress, Brookes would continue to support Coubertin's efforts, most importantly by using his connections with the Greek government to seek its support in the endeavor. While Brookes' contribution to the revival of the Olympic Games was recognized in Britain at the time, Coubertin in his later writings largely neglected to mention the role the Englishman played in their development. He did mention the roles of Evangelis Zappas and his cousin Konstantinos Zappas, but drew a distinction between their founding of athletic Olympics and his own role in the creation of an international contest. However, Coubertin together with A. Mercatis, a close friend of Konstantinos, encouraged the Greek government to utilise part of Konstantinos' legacy to fund the 1896 Athens Olympic Games separately and in addition to the legacy of Evangelis Zappas that Konstantinos had been executor of. Moreover, George Averoff
George Averoff
George M. Averoff , alternately Georgios Averof , was a Greek businessman and philanthropist of Aromanian origin....

 was invited by the Greek government to fund the second refurbishment of the Panathinaiko Stadium
Panathinaiko Stadium
The Panathinaiko or Panathenaic Stadium , also known as the Kallimarmaro , is an athletic stadium in Athens that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896...

 that had already been fully funded by Evangelis Zappas forty years earlier.

Coubertin's advocacy for the Games centered on a number of ideals about sport. He believed that the early ancient Olympics encouraged competition among amateur rather than professional athletes, and saw value in that. The ancient practice of a sacred truce in association with the Games might have modern implications, giving the Olympics a role in promoting peace. This role was reinforced in Coubertin's mind by the tendency of athletic competition to promote understanding across cultures, thereby lessening the dangers of war. In addition, he saw the Games as important in advocating his philosophical ideal for athletic competition: that the competition itself, the struggle to overcome one's opponent, was more important than winning. Coubertin expressed this ideal thus:


L'important dans la vie ce n'est point le triomphe, mais le combat, l'essentiel ce n'est pas d'avoir vaincu mais de s'être bien battu.



The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.


As Coubertin prepared for his Congress, he continued to develop a philosophy of the Olympic Games. While he certainly intended the Games to be a forum for competition between amateur athletes, his conception of amateurism was complex. By 1894, the year the Congress was held, he publicly criticized the type of amateur competition embodied in English rowing contests, arguing that its specific exclusion of working-class athletes was wrong. While he believed that athletes should not be paid to be such, he did think that compensation was in order for the time when athletes were competing and would otherwise have been earning money. Following the establishment of a definition for an amateur athlete at the 1894 Congress, he would continue to argue that this definition should be amended as necessary, and as late as 1909 would argue that the Olympic movement should develop its definition of amateurism gradually.

Along with the development of an Olympic philosophy, Coubertin invested time in the creation and development of a national association to coordinate athletics in France, the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques
Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques
Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques is a former French sports governing body. During the 1890s and early 1900s it organised numerous sports including athletics, cycling, field hockey, fencing, croquet and swimming...

 (USFSA). In 1889, French athletics associations had grouped together for the first time and Coubertin founded a monthly magazine La Revue Athletique, the first French periodical devoted exclusively to athletics and modelled on The Athlete, an English journal established around 1862. Formed by seven sporting societies with approximately 800 members, by 1892 the association had expanded to 62 societies with 7,000 members.

That November, at the annual meeting of the USFSA, Coubertin first publicly suggested the idea of reviving the Olympics. His speech met general applause, but little commitment to the Olympic ideal he was advocating for, perhaps because sporting associations and their members tended to focus on their own area of expertise and had little identity as sportspeople in a general sense. This disappointing result was prelude to a number of challenges he would face in organizing his international conference. In order to develop support for the conference, he began to play down its role in reviving Olympic Games and instead promoted it as a conference on amateurism in sport which, he thought, was slowly being eroded by betting and sponsorships. This led to later suggestions that participants were convinced to attend under false pretenses. Little interest was expressed by those he spoke to during trips to the United States in 1893 and London in 1894, and an attempt to involve the Germans angered French gymnasts who did not want the Germans invited at all. Despite these challenges, the USFSA continued its planning for the games, adopting in its first program for the meeting eight articles to address, only one of which had to do with the Olympics. A later program would give the Olympics a much more prominent role in the meeting.

The congress was held on 23 June 1894 at the Sorbonne
Sorbonne
The Sorbonne is an edifice of the Latin Quarter, in Paris, France, which has been the historical house of the former University of Paris...

 in Paris. Once there, participants divided the congress into two commissions, one on amateurism and the other on reviving the Olympics. A Greek participant, Demetrius Vikelas
Demetrius Vikelas
Demetrios Vikelas, or Bikelas was a Greek businessman and writer; he was the first president of the International Olympic Committee , from 1894 to 1896....

, was appointed to head the commission on the Olympics, and would later become the first President of the International Olympic Committee. Along with Coubertin, C. Herbert of Britain's Amateur Athletic Association and W.M. Sloane of the United States helped lead the efforts of the commission. In its report, the commission proposed that Olympic Games be held every four years and that the program for the Games be one of modern rather than ancient sports. They also set the date and location for the first modern Olympic Games, the 1896 Summer Olympics
1896 Summer Olympics
The 1896 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, was a multi-sport event celebrated in Athens, Greece, from April 6 to April 15, 1896. It was the first international Olympic Games held in the Modern era...

 in Athens, Greece, and the second, the 1900 Summer Olympics
1900 Summer Olympics
The 1900 Summer Olympics, today officially known as the Games of the II Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in 1900 in Paris, France. No opening or closing ceremonies were held; competitions began on May 14 and ended on October 28. The Games were held as part of...

 in Paris. Coubertin had originally opposed the choice of Greece, as he had concerns about the ability of a weakened Greek state to host the competition, but was convinced by Vikelas to support the idea. The commission's proposals were accepted unanimously by the congress, and the modern Olympic movement was officially born. The proposals of the other commission, on amateurism, were more contentious, but this commission also set important precedents for the Olympic Games, specifically the use of heats to narrow participants and the banning of prize money in most contests.

Following the Congress, the institutions created there began to be formalized into the International Olympic Committee (IOC), with Demetrius Vikelas as its first President. The work of the IOC increasingly focused on the planning the 1896 Athens Games, and de Coubertin played a background role as Greek authorities took the lead in logistical organization of the Games in Greece itself, offering technical advice such as a sketch of a design of a velodrome
Velodrome
A velodrome is an arena for track cycling. Modern velodromes feature steeply banked oval tracks, consisting of two 180-degree circular bends connected by two straights...

 to be used in cycling competitions. He also took the lead in planning the program of events, although to his disappointment neither polo
Polo
Polo is a team sport played on horseback in which the objective is to score goals against an opposing team. Sometimes called, "The Sport of Kings", it was highly popularized by the British. Players score by driving a small white plastic or wooden ball into the opposing team's goal using a...

, football, or boxing
Boxing
Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

 were included in 1896. The Greek organising committee had been informed that four foreign football teams were to participate however not one foreign football team showed up and despite Greek preparations for a football tournament it was cancelled during the Games.

The Greek authorities were frustrated that he could not provide an exact estimate of the number of attendees more than a year in advance. In France, Coubertin's efforts to elicit interest in the Games among athletes and the press met difficulty, largely because the participation of German athletes angered French nationalists who begrudged Germany their victory in the Franco-Prussian War. Germany also threatened not to participate after rumors spread that Coubertin had sworn to keep Germany out, but following a letter to the Kaiser
Kaiser
Kaiser is the German title meaning "Emperor", with Kaiserin being the female equivalent, "Empress". Like the Russian Czar it is directly derived from the Latin Emperors' title of Caesar, which in turn is derived from the personal name of a branch of the gens Julia, to which Gaius Julius Caesar,...

 denying the accusation, the German National Olympic Committee decided to attend. Coubertin himself was frustrated by the Greeks, who increasingly ignored him in their planning and who wanted to continue to hold the Games in Athens every four years, against de Coubertin's wishes. The conflict was resolved after he suggested to the King of Greece that he hold pan-Hellenic games in between Olympiads, an idea which the King accepted, although Coubertin would receive some angry correspondence even after the compromise was reached and the King did not mention him at all during the banquet held in honor of foreign athletes during the 1896 Games.

Coubertin took over the IOC presidency when Demetrius Vikelas stepped down after the Olympics in his own country. Despite the initial success, the Olympic Movement faced hard times, as the 1900 (in De Coubertin's own Paris) and 1904 Games were both swallowed by World's Fairs, and received little attention. The Paris Games were not organised by Coubertin or the IOC nor were they called Olympics at that time. The St. Louis Games was hardly internationalized and was an embarrassment.

President of the International Olympic Committee

The 1906 Summer Olympics
Intercalated Games
The Intercalated Olympic Games were to be a series of International Olympic Games half-way between what we now call Games of the Olympiad. This proposed series of games, intercalated in the Olympic Games cycle, was to always be held in Athens, and were to have equal status with the international...

 revived the momentum, and the Olympic Games grew to become the world's most important sports event. Coubertin created the modern pentathlon for the 1912 Olympics, and subsequently stepped down from his IOC presidency after the 1924 Olympics in Paris, which proved much more successful than the first attempt in that city in 1900. He was succeeded as president, in 1925, by Belgian Henri de Baillet-Latour
Henri de Baillet-Latour
Count Henri de Baillet-Latour was a Belgian aristocrat and the third president of the International Olympic Committee....

.

Coubertin remained Honorary President of the IOC until he died in 1937 in Geneva, Switzerland. He was buried in Lausanne (the seat of the IOC), although, in accordance with his will, his heart was buried separately in a monument near the ruins of ancient Olympia.

Personal Olympic Success

Coubertin won the gold medal for literature
Art competitions at the 1912 Summer Olympics
Art competitions were held as part of the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. It was the first time that art competitions were part of the Olympic program...

 at the 1912 Summer Olympics for his poem Ode to Sport.

Scouting

In 1911, Pierre de Coubertin founded the inter-religious Scouting organisation Eclaireurs Français (EF) in France, which later merged to form the Eclaireuses et Eclaireurs de France
Eclaireuses et Eclaireurs de France
Eclaireuses et Eclaireurs de France is an interreligious and coeducational Scouting and Guiding association in France. The first interreligious Scouting groups in France were founded in 1911, and interreligious Guiding started in 1914; both movements merged in 1964 forming the EEdF...

.

Later life

Pierre was the last person to the family name. In the words of his biographer John MacAloon, "The last of his lineage, Pierre de Coubertin was the only member of it whose fame would outlive him.

Criticism

Coubertin's legacy has been criticized by a number of scholars. David C. Young, a scholar of antiquity who has studied the ancient Olympic Games, believes that Coubertin misunderstood the ancient Games and therefore based his justification for the creation of the modern Games on false grounds. Specifically, Young points to Coubertin's assertion that ancient Olympic athletes were amateurs as incorrect. This question of the professionalism of ancient Olympic athletes is a subject of debate amongst scholars, with Young and others arguing that the athletes were professional throughout the history of the ancient Games, while other scholars led by Pleket argue that the earliest Olympic athletes were in fact amateur, and that the Games only became professionalized after about 480 BCE. Coubertin agreed with this latter view, and saw this professionalization as undercutting the morality of the competition.

Further, Young asserts that the effort to limit international competition to amateur athletes, which Coubertin was a part of, was in fact part of efforts to give the upper classes greater control over athletic competition, removing such control from the working classes. Coubertin may have played a role in such a movement, but his defenders argue that he did so unconscious of any class repercussions.

However, it is clear that his romanticized vision of the Olympic Games was fundamentally different from that described in the historical record. For example, de Coubertin's idea that winning was less important than striving is at odds with the ideals of the Greeks. The Apostle Paul, writing in the first century to Christians in the city of Corinth
Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

 where the Isthmian Games
Isthmian Games
The Isthmian Games or Isthmia were one of the Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, and were named after the isthmus of Corinth, where they were held...

 were held, reflects this in his writings when he says, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize", (1 Corinthians 9:24).

de Coubertin's assertion that the Games were the impetus for peace was also an exaggeration; the peace which he spoke of only existed to allow athletes to travel safely to Olympia, and neither prevented the outbreak of wars nor ended ongoing ones.

Scholars have critiqued the idea that athletic competition might lead to greater understanding between cultures and, therefore, to peace. Christopher Hill claims that modern participants in the Olympic movement may defend this particular belief, "in a spirit similar to that in which the Church of England remains attached to the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, which a Priest in that Church must sign." In other words, that they may not wholly believe it but hold to it for historical reasons.

Questions have also been raised about the veracity of Coubertin's account of his role in the planning of the 1896 Athens Games. According to Young, either due to personal or professional distractions, Coubertin played little role in planning, despite entreaties by Vikelas. Young also suggests that the story about Coubertin's having sketched the velodrome were untrue, and that he had in fact given an interview in which he suggested he did not want Germans to participate, something he later denied in a letter to the Kaiser.

Legacy

The Pierre de Coubertin medal
Pierre de Coubertin medal
The Pierre de Coubertin medal is a special medal given by the International Olympic Committee to those athletes who demonstrate the spirit of sportsmanship in Olympic events.The medal was inaugurated in 1964 and named in honour of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic...

 (also known as the Coubertin medal or the True Spirit of Sportsmanship medal) is an award given by the International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee is an international corporation based in Lausanne, Switzerland, created by Pierre de Coubertin on 23 June 1894 with Demetrios Vikelas as its first president...

 to those athletes that demonstrate the spirit of sportsmanship
Sportsmanship
Sportsmanship is an aspiration or ethos that a sport or activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one's competitors...

 in the Olympic Games. This medal is considered by many athletes and spectators to be the highest award that an Olympic athlete can receive, even greater than a gold medal. The International Olympic Committee considers it as its highest honor.

A minor planet
Minor planet
An asteroid group or minor-planet group is a population of minor planets that have a share broadly similar orbits. Members are generally unrelated to each other, unlike in an asteroid family, which often results from the break-up of a single asteroid...

 2190 Coubertin
2190 Coubertin
2190 Coubertin is a main-belt asteroid discovered on April 2, 1976 by N. S. Chernykh at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory. It is named for Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games.- External links :*...

 discovered in 1976 by Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh
Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh
Nikolay Stepanovich Chernykh was a Soviet and Russian astronomer.Chernykh was born in the city of Usman' in Voronezh Oblast...

 is named in his honor.

The street where the Olympic Stadium
Olympic Stadium (Montreal)
The Olympic Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district of Montreal, Quebec, Canada built as the main venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics...

 in Montreal is located (which hosted the 1976 Summer Olympic Games) was named after Pierre de Coubertin, giving the stadium the address 4549 Pierre de Coubertin Avenue. It is the only Olympic Stadium in the world that lies on a street named after Coubertin. There are also two schools in Montreal named after Pierre de Coubertin.

He was portrayed by Louis Jourdan in the 1984 NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 miniseries, The First Olympics: Athens, 1896.

List of works

This is a listing of Pierre de Coubertin's books. In addition to these, he wrote numerous articles for journals and magazines:

Further reading

  • Pierre de Coubertin, Olympism: selected writings, edited by Norbert Muller, Lausanne, IOC, 2000
  • John J Macaloon, This Great Symbol. Pierre de Coubertin and the Origins of the Modern Olympic Games, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1981, New Edition: Routledge 2007
  • International Journal of the History of Sport, Volume 23 Issue 3 & 4 2006 -This Great Symbol: Pierre de Coubertin and the Origins of the Modern Olympic Games
  • Michael Llewellyn Smith. Olympics in Athens 1896: The Invention of the Modern Olympic Games. Profile Books Ltd, London: 2004
  • Stephan Wassong, Pierre de Coubertin´s American studies and their importance for the analysis of his early educational campaign. Web publishing on LA84 Foundation. 2004.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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