Coubertin Quote for Jun, 13
Today, politics is making its way into the heart of every issue. How can we expect athletics, the culture of the muscles, and Olympism itself to be immune?Share
In his 1936 New Year’s Message, Baron Pierre de Coubertin waded into the controversies surrounding the threats of a boycott arising in the U.S. and France against the upcoming Berlin Olympic Games in Germany. Coubertin adamantly defended the idea that the Olympic Games must be protected from the winds and whims of the world’s everchanging political landscape and trends destined to pass—and must adhere to their mission to unite the world in friendship and peace through sport in whatever nation might be hosting them. As every student of Olympic history knows, the National Socialists under Adolf Hitler turned the Olympic Games into a platform of political pageantry, celebrating their detestable Aryan philosophy with every German victory, in effect completely undermining Coubertin’s hopes for political neutrality. Put in the awkward position of defending his Olympic Games afterward, Coubertin held his ground, refused to criticize the German hosts and praised the success of the event. This led, of course, to incredulous accusations that Coubertin was a Nazi sympathizer. It mattered not. Staunch in his lifelong mission, Coubertin remained unwavering in his belief that the eternal verities of Olympism would triumph as long as the Movement held fast to its inclusive philosophy and egalitarian values—the antithesis of everything the Nazis embodied and espoused. This message appeared in the article “Olympism and Politics” in Belgium’s La Revue Sportive Illustrée at the beginning of the year.
“Every institution, every creation, no matter how vibrant it may be, evolves in keeping with the customs and passions of the moment. Today, politics is making its way into the heart of every issue. How can we expect athletics, the culture of the muscles, and Olympism itself to be immune? Yet the ravages that this phenomenon can cause lie merely on the surface. In reality, there are almost always two forms of evolution in an institution: the evolution of appearances, and the evolution of the soul. The first tries to adapt to current trends, and changes according to the whims of fashion. The second remains as steadfast as the principles on which the institution is based. It evolves slowly and healthily, in conformity with the laws of humanity itself. Olympism falls within the second of these categories.”