The Olympics: An Enduring Reminder that History is Relevant
Updated: Feb 2, 2019
It's easy to think of history as simply something that happened in the past.
And it did. But it's more than that.
History is something that's made.
It's forged in every day moments and in grand theaters such as the world stage of the Olympics.
Take a look at just a few highlights from the most recent years, and then keep reading!
#MichaelPhelps: Most Decorated Athlete of All Time
#SimoneBiles: Greatest Gymnast of All Time
Of course, the list could go on and on! The #Olympics hold a special place in history. They not only showcase the best and most dedicated athletes from countries all over the world, but they showcase the climate of the world's social and political atmosphere.
Just look at the protests at the start of the winter #OlympicGames2018 in #PyeoChang South Korea. Or look at the press coverage of #ChloeKim's or #ShaunWhite's win. You can't escape the fact that the games are not just about sports or just about these great athletes. It's about what is important in today's culture. Tensions with North Korea, celebrating the American dream, and confronting sexual abuse.
Look at #Rio2016 and the refugee team. A team comprised of individuals from different countries who survived terrible atrocities and then competed as one team that represented the thousands of other #refugees who had to flee their home countries because of persecution.
Look at the 1980 men's hockey finals between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. With the #ColdWar at the forefront - it was about more than just some guys skating around with a puck. (You can watch the movie about it here!*)
But what about before that?
Did you know that since 1896 the Olympics were cancelled five times?
Before going into further details about that, can we just acknowledge the fact that during the Cold War when school children were being taught to hide under desks in case of nuclear warfare - the Olympics STILL HAPPENED.
What could possibly be more dramatic than that?
Maybe it's just me, but I think it's hard for us today to fully understand just how big of a deal WWI & WWII really were. Everyday life was put on hold. Every part of life was affected by WWII.
The entire world all agreed, "Let's put the Olympics on hold from 1936 - 1948"?
If that doesn't say something about the social and political climate, I don't know what does. I can't even imagine that being a thing...like how do you just cancel the Olympics? But it was. And it was cancelled 5 times.
Year Host Country Reason Cancelled
1916 (Summer) Germany WWI
1940 (Winter) Japan WWII
1940 (Summer) Japan WWII
1944 (Winter) Italy WWII
1944 (Summer) Great Britain WWII
From what I can tell, there doesn't seem to be any press coverage showing people were upset by this. That's crazy! But it gives a fuller picture of that time period and that generation of people.
Which is pretty neat when you think about it. If you ever thought the Olympics was just about sports...think again. They are an amazing opportunity to watch the greatest athletes from all over the world competing, but the Olympics also offer a perfect snapshot of what history is being forged.
Read it. Live it. Tell it.