Sunday, August 10, 2008

Athens 1896

Wherein I'd like to hear more about this fabled sport of whatnot


From this book: he Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D..
The games of 1896 were a bit loosely organized, which was to be expected. England, France, Germany, Denmark, Hungary, Switzerland, and the United States sent teams, official or unofficial. Greece, of course, had a large representation for the games on her own soil. The United States had no official team and no official body that could have sent an official team. Yet the athletes from the United States swept the track and field program, winning nine out of twelve events in this division.

Question, wouldn't sweeping the program mean taking 12 of 12?
Here it might be said

Might be? You're about to make a list of fact. So unless you're just making this up, just say it.
that the Olympic program has included, at different places and times, such varied competitions as mountain climbing, choral singing, dumbbell swinging, esthetic dancing, military riding, still fishing, bowling on the green and whatnot. But to the average man in the street the track and field program is the main point of interest and when it is said, for instance, that the United States has won or will win "the Olympic Games," the ordinary reference is to the Olympic track and field championships unless otherwise specified. [...]

Ah, the crutch of newspaper columnists for ages, the "average man in the street." Only bettered by the politician's monocultured "American people."
At about the same time James B. Connolly, later to become widely known as a writer of sea tales, was a student at Harvard with a flair

You know who else had flair? The Nazis.
for athletics, jumping in particular. He was a South Boston boy of independent spirit and determined to go to Athens to compete "on his own." He applied to the Harvard authorities for a leave of absence, which was refused. So he simply walked out, went to Athens and didn't set foot in Harvard again until long years later when he was invited to lecture before the Harvard Union, not on athletics, but on literature.

In your face, Harvard authorities! Oh yeah, Connolly won the hop, step and jump, the first event of the 1886 Olympics.

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