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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Facing the Führer: Jesse Owens and the history of the modern Olympic games

Enjoying Rio 2016? This extract from Sport: A Very Short Introduction by Mike Cronin gives a history of the modern Olympic games; from its inspiration in the British Public school system, to the role it played in promoting Nazi propaganda. The modern Olympic Games, and their governing body, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), came into being in 1894 and were the brainchild of Pierre de Coubertin. A Frenchman with a passionate interest in education, de Coubertin had visited England.

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Let’s tank tanking

“Tanking,” or deliberately trying to lose an athletic contest to gain a future competitive advantage, such as earning higher draft pick of prospective players, became the talk of the town or at least of many fans, in many US cities saddled with losing teams in such sports as hockey, basketball, and baseball. If actually practiced, however, tanking would exploit spectator, players, and coaches alike.

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Should we watch the Olympics?

We used to have to take time off from work –or at least leave work early– to watch the Olympics on TV. Now we can thank the engineering marvels of DVR and web replay for protecting our love affair with the Games from our evil work schedules. We are, rightly, mesmerized by the combination of talent, discipline, skill, and genetics embodied by the world’s greatest athletes.

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How much of an Olympics fan are you? [quiz]

On August 5, Rio de Janeiro will welcome the 2016 Summer Olympics, becoming the first South American city to ever host the Games. Before you attend that Olympics viewing party, why not brush up on your trivia game with our quiz below?

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A Dictionary of Sports Studies

Ten interesting facts about a selection of Olympic sports

Every four years, when the Olympics come around, everyone suddenly becomes an expert in one, many, or all of the sports on show. Whilst you watch you know exactly when an athlete goes wrong with their run-up, or when a horse steps out of line in the Dressage, or how a tennis player could better their serve.

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How do performance-enhancing drugs affect athletes?

Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) are drugs that improve active performance in humans, known colloquially in sports as ‘doping’. Perhaps the most famous abuser of PEDs to date is Lance Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France champion, who in 2013 confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, and was stripped of the seven Tour de France titles he won from 1999 to 2005.

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Violent sports: the “most perfect of contests”?

Violent sports like American football, ice hockey, rugby, boxing and mixed martial arts are perennially among the most popular. Their status is a frightening indication of the flowering of violence in sports in the 21st century, booming to a level unknown since ancient Greece and Rome. In the ancient Mediterranean, the audiences both in the Greek East and in the Roman West mutually enjoyed Greek athletic contests and Roman spectacles.

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British Medical Bulletin

Predicting exceptional performance at the Olympics in Rio: science or chance?

As every four years, we are now quickly approaching to the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 5 to 21 August 2016. The Olympics are the biggest sports event in the world, followed by the FIFA World Cup in football and the Tour de France of cycling, with as many as two billion people tuning in at some point during the event.

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How to stay both active and safe this summer

It’s no secret that summer is one of the most universally enjoyed parts of childhood. Waiting out the seemingly eternal last days of school – some have even been known to have a countdown starting in April – is a true act of patience. Then school finally ends. And it is time to ride bikes, play on sports teams and in tournaments, swim, hike, and possibly attend sports camps.

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The Paradoxical Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali’s funeral and memorial service brought together a seemingly incongruous cast of characters, once again spotlighting the many contradictions that have made it so difficult for commentators and biographers to extract a realistic assessment of his life. Even with a staggering amount written about him, Ali leaves behind a contested image largely characterized by misinterpretation.

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Why golf balls side slip just like aircrafts

Golf balls curve in flight for one principal reason: Namely that the golf club face is not square to the path being followed by the club head as it impacts the ball. This is illustrated in the figure where the club face is “open” to the club path by about four degrees. This is sufficient to produce a significant slice to the right.

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Why we need female brains in CTE research

US soccer player Brandi Chastain became a household name through her outstanding play in the 1999 Women’s World Cup. She scored the championship-winning goal in the unforgettable final shoot-out in front of the world and 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

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Race: Jesse Owens and the African American tradition

Patterned on other sports dramas about race and the freedom rights struggle, such as Remember the Titans, Glory Road, We Are Marshall, The Express, and 42, Race tells the story of Jesse Owens’ preparation and stunning performance at the 1936 Summer Olympics at Berlin, Germany. However, while Owens follows a long tradition of unsung African American heroes, many remain unfamiliar with the details surrounding his rise to prominence.

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We must try harder to stop the drug cheats

Reports of a Russian state doping programme are jarring reminders of times when victorious athletes were offered as evidence for the superiority of political ideologies. The allegations have certainly complicated aspirations to keep drugs out of the Olympics. If your state colludes in your doping then you have only to arrange to be clean around the dates of competition.

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60 years of Guinness World Records

On 27 August 1955, the first edition of the Guinness Book of Records–now Guinness World Records, was published. Through listing world records of both human achievements and of the natural world, what started as a reference book became an international franchise, gaining popular interest around the globe. In celebration of this anniversary of weird and wonderful world records, we’ve selected a few favourites from talented individuals featured in our online products.

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“Deflategate” and the “Father of Football”

The Wells Report besmirched the reputation of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, concluding that the NFL ‘golden boy’ was likely aware that he was playing with under-inflated footballs in the 2015 AFL conference game against the Indianapolis Colts. If the report is to be believed, even Brady has stooped to less-than-savory methods to win a game of football. There are a range of opinions about Brady’s innocence, offered by nearly every sports commentator and former football player.

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