Monday, August 11, 2008

St. Louis 1904

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D..


To the Paris games of 1900 some of the colleges of this country had sent groups of their best athletes and the New York A.C. had sent a group composed largely of former college stars. The United States had almost as many athletes in the paris games as all the other countries combined. Next to the United States contingent, Great Britain had the strongest team at Paris in 1900. But the colleges that had sent teams to Paris in 1900 practically boycotted the games four years later in St. Louis. The British, who finished second in Paris, didn't send a single representative to St. Louis. Nor did the French...

Ooooh! Intrigue! This should be a good story!
Naturally, there were some sharp controversies over the lack of athletes from Great Britain and France and also over the defection of Yale, Penn, and other Eastern universities.

Naturally, I agree. I look forward to you breaking down these sharp controversies for me.
The disputes went from the quip modest right up through the countercheck quarrelsome to the lie direct, but the games ran off smoothly and the marks made by the competitors were proof that the stay-at-homes, foreign or domestic, with few exceptions, would hvae had a difficult time holding to the Olympic pace at St. Louis.

Kiernan and Daley aren't going to tell us a damn thing, are they? Forty-one pages in and this book officially sucks ass. But at least they get to demonstrate their mastery of Shakespeare: "Quip modest" is not a typo for "quite modest," it is from As You Like It; as is -- screw it, here's quote: O Sir, we quarrel in print, by the book, as you have books for good manners. I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the Countercheck Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct.

Cute. But on a scale of 1-10 for useful information, this paragraph is a one. Doesn't have time or space to explain the reasons behind the boycott, yet this same chapter hands over four pages to the marathon.
[...The] Olympic Games of 1904 at St. Louis...closed down with a brisk battle between the Chicago A.A. and the New York A.C. over the eligibility of John DeWitt, Princeton all-around athlete, to compete for the New York A.C. He had lent a hand to the rope-pulling in the tug-of-war contest and the award of the team trophy hinged on the single point in dispute. After wading through a mass of charges, counter-charges, allegations and affidavits, the official jury finally gave the team trophy to the New York A.C. and the indignant Chicago delegation withdrew vowing vengeance. It cause a fine flurry at the time, but the bitter quarrel long since has been forgotten.

After reading this paragraph about ten times I think I finally figured out the controversy. Being from Princeton, DeWitt was not a member of the New York A.C. so Chicago tried to have him disqualified for pulling with New York. Also of note is that no where in the book do the authors define A.C. or A.A. I'm working under the assumption that it's Athletic Club and Athletic Association.

For a book advertising itself as the "complete history of the world's greatest sporting events" it's close to a complete failure. Aside from the almost total focus on U.S. victories (possibly explained by the near total domination of the U.S. athletes in these early years), it also focusses on track events to the near exclusion of everything else as each chapter only lists that year's winning track and field results. And as the appendix of Olympic champions doesn't list the 1904 tug-of-war champion, though the 1906 champion is named, I can't even rely on this to be accurate.

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