Coubertin Quote for Jan, 12
The Olympic idea is the concept of strong physical culture based on the spirit of fair play and the esthetic idea grace.Share
The 1908 Olympic Games were originally awarded to Rome, Italy, but when Mount Vesuvius erupted on April 5, 1906, the Italian government had to divert funding to the reconstruction of Naples and asked Coubertin to find another host. The British stepped up on short notice and Coubertin rediscovered in England the advanced sporting culture he had greatly admired from his first visit to Rugby in 1883. In speaking to the royal family and the leaders of the London Olympic Organizing Committee, Coubertin expressed his hopes that the 1908 Games would inspire the development of a strong physical culture around the world, which he implicitly acknowledged the British already possessed. A strong physical culture meant broad public participation in sport based on a common set of rules which he called chivalry—after the code of conduct of knights in days of old—and the Brits had begun to call fair play.
“In our view, the Olympic idea is the concept of strong physical culture based in part on the spirit of chivalry—what you here so pleasantly call fair play—and in part on the esthetic idea of the cult of what is beautiful and graceful. I will not say that the Ancients never failed to live up to this ideal.”
In this quote, Coubertin is essentially recognizing the British as the vanguard of a new world order of sporting culture, based on fair play, beauty and grace through the Olympic Games. He is also in part acknowledging his own attachment to language that was already becoming archaic. The word chivalry reached its peak use in the first half of the 19th century, before Coubertin was born, and has been in decline since. A man of his times, he clung to it nonetheless.
Today's quote comes from a speech entitled The Trustees of the Olympic Idea, given in 1908 at the Games and printed in the Olympic Review that year.