COMMENTARY 786.4: Bringing Olympic Ideals Into Our Lives

by Michael Josephson on August 1, 2012

in Odds & Ends, Sportsmanship

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I’ve talked before about the Olympic ideals upon which the modern movement was founded. Over the years, new words and symbols were made part of Olympism to reinforce those ideals.

One of them is the Olympic Motto: citius, altius, fortius (faster, higher, stronger). Note that it’s not “fastest, highest, strongest” because the Olympic ideal encourages athletes to view success in terms of effort, the constant striving for improvement and the achievement of one’s personal best. Giving one’s best and pursuing victory with honor is a worthwhile goal regardless of the outcome.

The symbolism of the Olympic logo is also important. Each of the five Olympic rings is a different color representing 1) the colors that appeared on all the national flags of the world at the time of its design in 1913, and 2) the five inhabited continents (the Americas are treated as one, and no particular ring is meant to represent any specific continent). The rings are interlaced to represent that the Olympics are universal, bringing athletes from the world together.

The Olympic torch that carries the Olympic flame to the cauldron also has significant meaning. Ancient Greeks believed that fire, given to mankind by Prometheus, has sacred qualities. For many, it represents the spark of humanity, the flame within all of us that makes us human.

The Olympic flame is lit in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera in Olympia using a parabolic mirror to focus rays of the sun. Emphasizing the inextinguishable nature of man and the linking of all of us, a worldwide relay of runners carrying torches brings the flame to the site of the Games where an honored athlete ignites the cauldron.

Olympic ideals can and should infuse sports and our lives with nobler purpose and deeper meaning.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that Character Counts!

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