“Give others a chance to play”, she said. “But mom, it’s still my turn.” “You’ve been at it for so long. She’s been waiting. Come on, be a SPORT!”
“Be a sport” We’ve often heard this phrase. Sport…meaning here to be nice and let the other person play. Irrespective of the origin of the phrase, one can assume that sport has long since stood for everything good, for niceness and for all that is right in the world. From small scale to large, it brought kids of a colony together, kids with similar passions, people of different states and different countries together.
The first Olympics under the International Olympic Committee was held in 1896. Pierre de Coubertin was the man instrumental in the creation of the IOC. Coubertin saw the Olympics as a way to bring people together. He believed that sport had a message to deliver. For him, as he explains in the Olympic creed, “the games are not about winning, but taking part; the struggle, not the triumph. It is not important to have won, but to have fought well.”
The Olympic symbol, which comprises of 5 inter-locking rings, was designed in 1912 by Coubertin. It represents the 5 continents of America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. According to Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, the rings represent marriage, continuity and the human being. He felt that Coubertin’s theme was the marriage or the unison of the continents. The colours of black, yellow, green, blue and red were used because every participating nation’s flag had at least one of these colors at that time. The Olympic flag, first used in 1914, bears these 5 rings on a white canvas. White – The color of purity. The Olympic hymn which was written by Kostis Palamas and composed by Spyros Samaras in 1896, speaks about nations coming together in humility and peace to celebrate victory and all that is good. The Olympic Charter in Chapter 1, Article 6 states, ‘the Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries.’ The Olympics promotes the philosophy of ‘Olympism’ which is the blending of sport with education and culture.
This background of the Olympics makes me believe that this event was created with a romantic innocence that was supposed to engulf the world with compassion. That every four years, it would come, and show the world we are one. It would not only make the athletes experience the joy of being a part of it, but also bring out the child within those of us who wished we could run like we had not a care in the world. It would throw up role-models like Oscar Pistorius (both legs amputated from below the knees) for those who could only dream about walking. It would bring hope and fight, in those that despaired. The Olympics was definitely not meant to begin with a controversy surrounding its main sponsors. We are in 2012-the year of the Olympics. London calls out to the countries of the world and the athletes around. Dow Chemicals owns Union Carbide that was responsible for the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984 which killed thousands of people and injured even more. They seem to be interested in the future of Olympics. Not the games, but the locations and the market of the next Olympic games. It is easy to yell from the side-lines to not let them sponsor such an event, but even on the front-line, the innocence of a child dictates that this does not seem right.
The mascots of this year’s London Olympics, Wenlock, named after the Shropshire town of Much Wenlock that helped inspire Pierre de Coubertin to launch the modern Olympics, and Mandeville, inspired by the Buckinghamshire town of Stoke Mandeville, where the Paralympics were founded, are meant to be drops of steel that were used to create the Olympics stadium. These two amoebic blobs with one giant eye each are mascots intended to get children excited about the event. They are, albeit drops of steel, naïve little beings who intend to do ‘good’ and integrate education, culture and sport. The London Olympics website, either by accident or by purpose, seems to have captured something very artistically childish. The 2012 logo resembles a jigsaw puzzle that a little boy would want to put together. This seems like what the Olympics should be about. Do we need to push our nation’s athletes so far that they do anything it takes and more, to give us that gold, or can we enjoy any human’s achievement regardless of his/her nationality? Do we count success in gold or would we be happy if an ecstatic child ran across the finish line? Would we chide our athletes for a loss or would we celebrate their efforts?
This Olympics let us come together and celebrate sport. Let us all bring out our childhood dreams and set them free. Let us relive our childhood memories, not the ones we remember, but the ones others remember.
For innocence it’s said, maketh a child; For together alone, we must abide.
Come, let us celebrate being one.
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