Coubertin Quote for Jan, 26
Games provide the perfect terrain for social education.

It was at the colleges and universities of England where Pierre de Coubertin found the early focus of his mission in life—to bring sport and games into French education. A natural athlete all his life—he boxed, fenced, rowed, ran, played tennis and could ride horses like a cowboy—he wanted the children of France to engage in play while in school, gaining all the benefits of exercise and learning all the lessons of physical education.

Visiting the School of Rugby in 1883, which Coubertin had read all about as a teenager in the French edition of Tom Brown’s School Days, the young Baron, only 20, encountered the model of sports education that became his paragon. At Rugby, where the headmaster Thomas Arnold had first integrated sport into education in the 1820s (full story to follow in a few days), Coubertin began to see that sport and games effected not only physical conditioning, but social education as well, teaching the competitors how to cooperate, fit in, get along and achieve common goals.

In his earliest essays on specific reforms, he began to articulate for his French audience the broader benefits to society he noted on the playing fields of Britain. This excerpt is from an 1887 article on English Education, which appeared in La Reforme Sociale, a magazine that served as a major forum for ideas at the forefront of social change.

“Games also provide the perfect terrain for social education. The students, who form their own athletic associations, are fully responsible for organizing the games. They band together, elect their own leaders, and then obey them with remarkable discipline.”