Olympics: 1610, "of or in ref. to Olympos, also Olympia (khora), " town or district in Elis in ancient Greece, where athletic contests in honor of Olympian Zeus were held 776 B.C.E. and every four years thereafter, from Gk. Olympikos, from Olympos, of unknown origin. The modern Olympic Games are a revival, begun in 1896. Not the same place as Mount Olympus, abode of the gods, which was in Thessaly. The name was given to several mountains, each seemingly the highest in its district.
Many of you reading this are familiar with my family and our love of sports. And because I value you as a reader and the simple fact that I want you to come back I won't bore you with the athletic details that make up my life. With that being said, I wanted to share with you a paper that I helped my 15 year old son add some final touches (I added the pics & a few words) to tonight for a term paper that is due tomorrow. I'm very proud of what he accomplished with this paper. I hope you enjoy and well done Bryce.
Sport & Athletic Competition
How do you think sport and athletic competition alters a person’s life? The initial thought that comes to mind when pondering that question is to think in current terms and in current events. Many of us think of history as something that happened last week, but when you research the topic of sports one realizes that sports have been around “forever” and they have been changing and altering people’s lives for quite some time. Sport has been visible and valuable since pre historic times, and vital to communities and villages as far back as 1500 B.C. I believe sports, from when they began to 1500 B.C, were more than just playing a simple game to people during these times. In Ancient Times sports had four unique and distinctive phases: Prehistoric Age, historic Greece, ancient Italy, and the Byzantine Empire. All of these eras were the starting point for many, if not all, the sports we participate in and view today. During the Ancient Times sports were a very intricate part of society that had military, political and social ramifications. Sport has played a significant role in the evolution of humanity and with the change of cultures throughout societies in the world.
Roman bronze reduction of Myron's Discobolos, 2nd century CE
The Prehistoric Age was the beginning of sports, as we know it. Although sports have change throughout the years, the roots of sports traces back to this time period. The games that were played within in the sport were, according to europeanvirtualmuseum.net “a physical or intellectual form of organized activities.” Games were mostly played to display physical and mental strength, education, the unity of the society or culture, and of course, for fun and to relax. Military and recreational aspects played a big role in sports as well, according to Nigel B. Crowther in his book Sports in Ancient Times. The military outlook on sports was simply to keep the participants, playing the game, in shape physically and mentally. Prehistoric Egypt and other river-valley civilizations such as Samaria, Mesopotamia, and Persia are all important examples of sports, and its social significance and importance, in Prehistoric Times.
The next significant era in sports was historic and ancient Greece. Greece’s value and importance is primarily due the fact that the first Olympic Games were held there. The games began in 776 B.C. in Olympia and were held there until 393 B.C. They were said to have started there because of Greece’s love of sports and competition, according to www.infoplease.com/ce6/sports/A0860127.html. The games were held in honor of the Greek God, Zeus. Games such as boxing, wrestling, chariot racing, javelin, and field events such as high jump and running events were the main areas of competition. Studies have shown that during this time the Olympics were somewhat exclusive. Only free men, who spoke Greek, were allowed to compete in the games. Although this was an unfortunate circumstance, I still believe the experience of the Olympics unified Greek society by allowing people to gather focusing on athletic competition and encouraging participation of the times greatest athletes. Another downside to the Olympics during this time was the fact that women were not only aloud to participate in the games, but weren’t permitted to be a spectator. Women, during this time, made the best of this situation and started games of their own called Heraea. Finally, sports during this were a reflection of the society they were played in, simply because the rules and regulations of that society usually had the biggest impact on the sport itself.
The Ancient Italy era of sports was also a notable time in history. Ancient Italian sports involved mostly chariot racing and gladiator fights. Gladiator fights were primarily to entertain the audience and the politicians. These fights usually involved slaves who were trained to fight. Many today would say it was a terrible thing to do and people shouldn’t have supported this behavior. Although I agree with that opinion, I believe that sport during this time was the beginning of a revolution in sports based on violence and real life drama resulting in increased excitement for the spectators.
Young girl winning chariot race, engraving from red-figure Greek vase
The last era of sport that I would like to look at is the Byzantine Empire. During this time chariot racing was as popular as it was in Roman times and was the sport of the day. Chariot racing was exciting but viewed as a dangerous sport often leaving the rider and horse dead. The chariot race still remained popular as it is still believed today that it was the sporting event that founded the Olympics Games. It was also during the Byzantine Empire that the Olympics were ended in 393 A.D. in an attempt to end paganism and to promote Christianity and Christian values.
Throughout time sports has been a catalyst for social change, political maneuvering and military prowess. Within each time period, and ancient empire, there is evidence supporting the value of athletic endeavors and the importance of individual competition. Athletic competition was as good for the body, as it was for the mind and soul. Much like today, “Gods” were discovered and legends were created, and because of this people were inspired and encouraged by the level of skill an athlete could display in competition for all spectators to see. In the end, sports and athletic competition inspires and encourages people. It can alter a person’s life physically, socially and financially, but ultimately sports are about character. The great John Wooden once said; “Sports do not build character, they reveal it.” I couldn’t agree more.
bcb . 16.5.11