Coubertin Quote for Apr, 01
In Athens, for the first Olympic Games, I well remember an American lady who, after congratulating me, said, smiling: 'I have already watched Olympic Games.' 'Really!' I said, 'and where was that?' 'In San Francisco.' Seeing my bewilderment, she added: 'They were very beautiful. Caesar was there.'

All those who knew him said that Baron Pierre de Coubertin had a great sense of humor and enjoyed a good laugh.  In his Olympic Memoirs, there are many anecdotes that draw a smile, including this one—which is not an April Fool’s joke but a real memory.  It is part of his recollection of the cheerful cluelessness of his audience at the Sorbonne on November 11, 1892 when he first proposed the restoration of the Olympic Games—and failed miserably.  They wished him well, but didn’t understand at all what he was attempting.  As you’ll note in the passage below, the story of the American in Athens is an apt addition.

“Naturally, I had foreseen every eventuality except what actually happened. Opposition? Objections, irony? Or even indifference? Not at all. Everyone applauded, everyone approved, everyone wished me great success, but no one had really understood. It was a period of total, absolute lack of comprehension that was about to start. And it was to last a long time.”

“Four years later, in Athens, on the occasion of the Games of the first Olympiad, I well remember an American lady who, after congratulating me, said, smiling: ‘I have already watched Olympic Games.’ ‘Really!’ I said, ‘and where was that?’ ‘In San Francisco.’ Seeing my bewilderment, she added: ‘They were very beautiful. Caesar was there.’” A reconstitution, a pageant, a show of the kind the Hippodrome in the Avenue de l'Alma, or London's Olympia were in the habit of putting on in those far off days, these were what were to stand obstinately between me and my audience in 1892.”

“Full of good will—but no understanding—they were unable to comprehend my idea, to interpret this forgotten thing: Olympism, and to separate the soul, the essence, the principle ... from the ancient forms that had enveloped it and which, during the last fifteen hundred years, had fallen into oblivion.”

Courtesy Creative Commons