Why teach the Olympic Games?
There is arguably no other event that affects us globally in the way the Olympics does. Even the nonsporting among us are touched. Why? Because the Olympics goes far deeper than simply a sporting event. Each of us has at least one deeply etched Olympic memory, whether a win, such as Cathy Freeman in the 400-m sprint in Sydney, a loss – Jane Saville’s disqualification in 2000, a country divided now united – North and South Korea marching under one flag, a tragedy, a controversy, an amazing feat , a display of sportsmanship or a mesmerising spectacle. The Olympic Games provides a unique opportunity for both teaching and learning; one that should be taken full advantage of.
Here are a few places to start:
- The values that underpin the Olympic Games: Pierre de Coubertin created a set of principles that could be applied, not only to sport but to society as a whole as well.
These are now the Olympic values:
- respect – fair play; knowing one’s own limits; taking care of one’s health and the environment
- excellence – how to give the best of oneself, on the field of play or in life
- friendship – how, through sport, to understand each other despite any differences.
- The Opening Ceremony is always an amazing spectacle of technology, innovation and awesome entertainment with the host nation creatively showcasing its culture and pride. The ceremony is steeped in tradition; the basic elements have remained unchanged throughout the history of the Modern Games. The medal presentations used throughout the Games are another traditional ceremony.
- There many symbols used in the Games in conjunction with philosophies and traditions. These include the Olympic creed, motto and symbol; the Olympic flame; the athletes’ oath; and the Olympic Movement.
- The strive for excellence. Baron de Coubertin said, “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle”. This is a powerful lesson and there are many examples in the Games where struggle is evident.
- The Olympic games is a great example of the value of games and play in our society. It is the culmination of what possibly started out for many as ‘fun thing to do’. At the Olympics games are played at the highest possible level – but the benefits of participation at any level are many.