Coubertin Quote for Jan, 03
The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part, just as in life, what counts is not the victory but the struggle.

This is Baron’s Pierre de Coubertin’s most famous quote, so famous, in fact, that it is officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the ‘Olympic Creed.’ because taking part in sport is the essential foundation of the philosophy of Olympism.

This quote has an interesting origin story. The Baron first delivered it in a speech at a banquet given by the British Government on July 24, 1908 during the London Olympic Games, the fourth Games of the modern era. Five days before, on Sunday morning, July 19th, the Baron had heard the Bishop of Pennsylvania, Monsignor Ethelbert Talbot, give an eloquent sermon at Saint James Cathedral to the athletes gathered for the Games, in which Talbot said “… the Games themselves are better than the race and the prize.” In his inimitable style, Coubertin expanded on the bishop’s idea and turned it into his most enduring statement. Here’s an excerpt from the speech he gave to the royal family and the dignitaries present at the banquet, which was printed in the Revue Olympique in 1908:

“The Bishop of Pennsylvania recalled this in apt terms: ‘In these Olympiads, the important thing is not winning, but taking part.’ Gentlemen, let us remember this strong statement. It applies to every endeavor, and can even be taken as the basis of a serene and healthy philosophy. What counts in life is not the victory, but the struggle; the essential thing is not to conquer, but to fight well. To spread these precepts is to help create a more valiant, stronger humanity, one that is also more scrupulous and more generous.”

This statement did not appear officially until the opening ceremony of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games, when it was displayed on the scoreboard in the LA Coliseum. Four years later, it was heard in the Baron’s voice on a recorded broadcast at the opening ceremony of the Berlin 1936 Olympics. Since then, it has become ubiquitous in Olympic circles. The photograph is from the opening ceremonies of the London 1948 Games.