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Here we go, ready for another Olympic year. All the usual events are scheduled: the not-ready athletes’ accommodation, the drug scandals, the risk of tropical disease, the arguments over the cost of the Games, the on-going risk of terrorist activity, displaced people, the worry over how well athletes will perform…

Yup. All looks in perfect order.

Because that’s what happens. It’s never a celebration of sport, or people proud of sending teams from all corners of the world, or concentration on the fastest, strongest and most impressive athletes. Nope. All people want to do is moan.

Way back in 1896 when the Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin re-started the Games, he based them on the Olympic Games of Ancient Greece – games where men (and it was only men taking part in the Games in Ancient Greece) competed for honour and glory, and not for money. De Coubertin had two sayings: the first one was that the Olympic Games should be about being ‘faster, higher, stronger’; and the second one was that sport is all about the struggle, and not about triumphing – in other words, taking part is more important than winning.

But, oh how we’ve lost our way on that one!

For example, the Olympics, the biggest athletics event on the planet, is sponsored by – amongst others – Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. In other words, fast food is used to promote exercise. Broadcasters from all around the world compete to show the different sports on offer. So you can happily sit on your couch and munch your burger and fries whilst watching all these fantastically talented athletes sweat and compete – just so you don’t have to!

Now it’s all about the money. About winning. About cheating to win (just read about the doping scandals in Russia). About hosting the biggest, the best, the most spectacular games…

Of course, I will enjoy the Games. I am really looking forward to watching a whole load of sports, getting to see and know new athletes, and enjoying the coverage (and support all our Kiwi athletes). However, I don’t want my Olympic experience spoiled by money-grabbing companies or ‘athletes’ who will do whatever it takes to get a medal.

I also know that I will be disappointed. Every four years, when the Olympics are on, I hope the same thing, and there’s always been issues and upset. But I don’t want that to spoil it for me. I will focus on the sport, the pride and hope to hang on to what Pierre de Coubertin said.

Roll on Rio 2016!!!


This is an opinion article, designed to promote critical discussion amongst your students:

Critical Thinking Challenges:

1. Is winning or taking part more important?

2. Do you think that modern athletes are different or the same as the athletes of Ancient Greece who took part in the Games for honour and glory?

3. Fast food companies sponsoring the Olympics – good idea or not?

4. Why is the last ‘athletes’ in inverted commas?

Practical Tasks:

1. Look up a list of companies who are sponsoring this year’s Olympic Games. Who are those companies and why do you think they want their brands associated with Rio 2016?

2. Who was Pierre de Coubertin? Why did he re-start the Olympic Games?

3. With the help of an atlas or the internet, look at the different cities and countries which have hosted the Olympic Games. Which cities surprise you? Are there any cities which haven’t yet hosted that you think would be good suggestions?

Have Your Say:

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8 Responses

  1. It’s good to watch the Olympic Games on TV, even though I’m not actually in the audience. But I’m actually really shocked to hear that nowadays, all the Olympic Games is for is to give you a chance to win. Win big money. Though I’m not a big fan of sports, I want to say that I think the Olympic Games is there for you to take part, and have fun.

  2. At school we are going to watch some of the olympics. we do it every four years when it is on

  3. This isn’t good or cool, this downright terrible! Who does these people think they are, trying to send drugged athletes into the Olympics! AND WHY DID EVERYBODY SAY THIS WAS GREAT NEWS!!! Everyone thought it was how it was written and not about the contents. Wow.

  4. Huh, fast food supporting sports. What have our world come to? I guess money is the most important thing here.

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