for the founders of the Modern Olympic Games
July 30, 2004
Letters to the Editor
Was Baron Pierre de Coubertin a good sport?
I don't want to take anything away from Dominique Ferguson's award in Netball of the "Pierre de Coubertin Award". She deserves the best award available for her achievements.
But be serious. The worst name to give an award for "being a good sport" is the "Pierre de Coubertin" award since he was definitely not a good sport.
For starters, he didn't found the Modern Olympic Games. Two men preceded him.
Evangelis Zappas in Athens, Greece founded the first modern Olympic Games in 1859. He also sponsored the first modern Olympic Games to take place in a stadium in 1870 (and paid for the refurbishment of the stadium). This same stadium was used for the Olympic Games of 1875, 1896 and 1906.
Then there was Dr William Penny Brookes of Much Wenlock, Shropshire, England who founded a Games in 1850 which he named "Olympian Games" in 1859 on being inspired by the Olympic Games in Greece. He then went on to found the "Wenlock Olympian Society" in 1860. Dr Brookes never got around to building a stadium and his Olympics did not look very Olympic before the early 1860s. Coubertin visited Brookes in Much Wenlock in 1890 and was inspired to go on to found the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894.
Sadly, Baron Pierre de Coubertin failed to consider his predecessors when he selfishly promoted himself as having single-handedly revived the Modern Olympic Games. The IOC continues to blow his trumpet and neglects to mention the true founders as often as possible.
Recommended reading by Zappas.org: