chapter  3
19 Pages

The promise of Olympism: Graham McFee


It is widely acknowledged that Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s invention of the modern Olympic Games was fuelled by his belief in the value of sport: in particular, its educative value. And many governments have urged that sport has a value of this sort. Further, the promises of governments exhibit a fair degree of unanimity when ‘advertising’ the contribution of hosting the Olympic Games. But the values attributed and the improvements promised have not typically been those de Coubertin endorsed, at least once rhetorical claims are set aside. Does that suggest that the values de Coubertin urged for sport (and especially for the Olympics) are mere fictions, sheer idealism or a hopeless form of utopianism? At the least, these values cannot readily be discerned, after many years of the modern Olympic Games. Anyone seeking to defend a version of de Coubertin’s position must meet such difficulties.