My Year of Posting Pierre

Every day for the last year I have posted a quote from the writings of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games. I’ve added a brief commentary to provide context and cite the source of each quote. I started this project, which I named Coubertin Speaks, as a continuation of my effort to promote wider recognition of Pierre’s achievements and ideas. 

I was hoping someone famous with a few million followers—an Olympian, an Olympic broadcaster or maybe a social activist or peacemaker—would pick up the Tweets and spread the word, but after a year, I am faced with the fact that my posts have barely carried Pierre’s work outside my immediate circle of friends. I may have pushed the Coubertin name to a thousand more people at most, which means, of course, the mission remains unfinished. 

I am not at all disappointed, however, since the work has left a searchable database of quotes that make Coubertin’s ideas available to everyone who takes an interest in his thought or his legacy.  Feel free to explore it at www.coubertinspeaks.com

As far as I’m concerned, Pierre de Coubertin is still one of history’s greatest forgotten heroes and deserves far more recognition and attention than he has received to date.  So, I’m planning to repost the 365 quotes again and maybe extend them to Instagram and other platforms.  I’m also planning to post an occasional article or essay that combines a set of quotes around the common themes that have emerged in the last twelve months—peace, youth, harmony, sport & education or the record books—to add insight into Pierre’s evolving ideas. And I’ll be looking for partners to help me spread the word from the heights to the grassroots level of world sport.

When you dive into the Baron's writings—as we have over the last year—you begin to understand the depth of his commitment to changing the world for the better.  Taken together, the quotes I’ve posted tell you he was driven by an unrelenting altruistic instinct, which expressed itself in the daily work of the Olympic Movement and the extraordinary spectacle of each Olympic Games. There is no doubt that he was on a quest to serve humanity and the rising tide of sport by lifting people everywhere toward fuller, healthier lives of balance and harmony.  Above all else, he wanted to reform education and ensure it served the development of the whole human being, mentally, physically, emotionally. 

He was obviously a man of his times—a man of the moment who seized the great opportunity that international sport offered and became its first global entrepreneur.  But Pierre de Coubertin was far more than a promoter, he was a social philosopher who saw in the values of sport an opportunity for self-improvement for every man, woman and child.  He saw in sport the possibilities of a social force that could strengthen the fabric that binds each nation together, regardless of its political structure, and could, through international competition, bind the nations of the world together in friendship and peace.  

Although he was impoverished and lived in anguish for the last ten years of his life, he remained deeply committed to the ideals he had enshrined in the Games and managed to present an optimistic face to the world.  Whenever opportunities to speak came calling in the 1930s, the Baron delivered messages that sung with hope despite the hardship of his personal circumstances.  He would not admit pain publicly, nor accept handouts, because he was guided by a stoicism he had learned from the ancients, part of the code of Hellenism he lived by. 

Today, the Olympic Movement faces various challenges on multiple fronts—opposition to bid cities, conflicts among anti-doping advocates, intransigent corruption in certain sports—and yet it also continues to embody the greatest hope for the unity of humanity on our planet.  Nothing else rivals the ability of the Olympic Games to unite our world in a single shared experience that celebrates our common bonds and noble aspirations.  And we owe the promise and possibilities of the Games and the Movement to Pierre de Coubertin above all others.  In his writings, his ideas and his legacy, we may yet find a better way forward.

Stay tuned.

George Hirthler