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UNIT 25: Global Popular Culture

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VIDEO SEGMENT: The Olympic Games: From Ancient City-State to World Athletes

This segment explores the way sports have become global events through the example of the Olympic games. The modern Olympic games were revived in the late nineteenth century from an ancient Greek tradition. The Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin founded the modern Olympic games in hopes of instilling senses of honor, sportsmanship, and international cooperation in participants and observers alike. In spite of these ideals, however, the history of the Olympic games reflects the many social and political struggles of the twentieth century.

Indeed, the revived Olympic games originally reflected both the racist and sexist stereotypes of the day by idealizing white, male, European bodies, and by restricting the participation of those who did not fit that ideal. In addition, the Olympic games have consistently been disrupted or even cancelled as a result of international events. The games were cancelled during World Wars I and II, were tragically disrupted in 1972 when Israeli athletes were killed, and were boycotted by fifty nations in 1980 as a result of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. In the end, even though many participants have tried to live up to the ideal of making the world more peaceful through sports, the Olympic games nevertheless continue to be subject to the struggles of their times.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Anonymous, OLYMPIA (n.d.). Courtesy of Northwind Picture Archives.

Anonymous, BODIES OF OLYMPIC ATHLETES KILLED IN TERRORIST ATTACK SEPT. 5TH,1972 IN MUNICH LIE ON COMMAND CARS FOLLOWING THIER ARRIVAL HERE SEPT. 7TH FOR A STATE SERVICE AT LOD AIRPORT TEL AVIV, ISRAEL (1972). Image donated by Corbis - Bettmann.


Anonymous, ADOLF HITLER, GRUST DIE OLYPISCHE FAHNE (1936). Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Anonymous, ILLUSTRATION OF ANCIENT GREEK ATHLETES (c. 600 B.C.E.). Image donated by Corbis - Bettmann.



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