As Michael Phelps pulled away from the field in the 200 IM to win his thirteenth individual Olympic Gold Medal, he set the standard by which athletic greatness will be measured. The greatest athletes are not just good at one thing—the measurement of true greatness, established from antiquity to the present, is the ability to dominate different events, and the ability to do so more than once.
Since the very beginning of the games at Olympia, the event has served to strengthen unity, bring peace, and celebrate individuals for achieving greatness after endless hours of hard work. The Olympics have always been a source of inspiration and a connection to our own humanity.
Sport has long had a fascination with blood. The blood of the Roman gladiators, mopped by a sponge from the arena, fed a profitable business; perhaps the athlete’s ultimate commitment to promoting their brand? Today blood is even more relevant to sport.
Recent years have brought recognition that sportsmen and women may have mental health needs that are just as important as their ‘physical’ health – and that may need to be addressed. Athletes are people too, subject to many of the same vulnerabilities as the rest of us. In addition to our everyday anxieties, the sports world contains a whole host of different stressors.
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.
“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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.