June 23, 2020
A semi-coherent collection of news, data, thoughts and opinions for your enjoyment, sharing or immediate deletion. Hopefully you find a few valuable nuggets inside that are worth your while...
Olympic Day was established in 1948 to commemorate the founding of the International Olympic Committee, which occurred on June 23, 1894 at the Sorbonne in Paris.
In honor of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the Frenchman who founded the Modern Olympic Games on this day in 1894, here’s a brief profile of him from my friend, George Hirthler, which was written in 2018 before the Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games.
The Original Modern Olympic Hero
Above: Baron Pierre de Coubertin, back row, 4th from the right.

It is one of the great ironies of modern sports history that the name of the founder of the modern Olympic Movement is so widely unknown.

Billions of people all over the world tune into each edition of the Olympics—winter and summer—and yet they seldom hear the name of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the French education reformer who gave our world its greatest recurring celebration of humanity.

He stood only 5’ 3”, but by many measures he was a giant of the 20th century.

Born into an aristocratic family in Paris on January 1, 1863, Pierre embraced the values of the Third Republic as a young man—liberty, equality, fraternity—and began a quest to introduce sport to the French education system along the lines of the successful British model.

As a way to popularize sport in his country, he began promoting competition between schools, clubs and even countries.

At the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition, where the Eiffel Tower was unveiled, he saw the potential of international events as a platform for bringing the world together—and he also saw the possibilities of harnessing the quickly expanding peace movement of the time to strengthen sport.

Five years later, in the Sorbonne in Paris, an audience of 2000 rose in acclamation of his proposal to resurrect the ancient Olympic Games in modern form—and launch a new movement designed to unite the world in friendship and peace through sport.

“Wars break out because nations misunderstand each other,” Coubertin said. “We shall not have peace until the prejudices that now separate the different races are outlived. To attain this end, what better means is there than to bring the youth of all countries periodically together for amicable trials of muscular strength and agility?”

The first modern Olympic Games took place in Athens, Greece in 1896, setting in motion an event that would become the pinnacle of international competition.

Coubertin guided the Olympic Movement through its first 30 years, retiring after the 1924 Paris Olympic Games, which were celebrated at his request in the city of his birth.

Today, Coubertin’s legacy lives on 365-days a year through the work of more than 200 National Olympic Committees around the world.

On the global scale, his philosophy of friendship and peace through sport can be seen playing out right now in the détente being established between North and South Korea as the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games approach.

Given the relevance of his work to our times, he should be a cultural icon known by all, instead he ranks as one of history’s greatest forgotten heroes.
George Hirthler is an Olympic Movement expert, author, and campaign strategist. His novel, The Idealist, is a fascinating exploration of the Baron's life and legacy. You can can click on the photo below to learn more and get your copy.
Note: I wrote the piece below five years ago. At the time, Paris was suffering the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks just as the IOC was preparing to award the city the 2024 Games. The world has changed, yet the sentiment of this piece remains relevant...
January 7 , 2015

Tomorrow, the USOC is set to announce their choice for bid city in the race to bring the 2024 Games back to the US. I am excited to hear their decision, and eager to support the US bid effort.

That may come as a surprise to some folks, especially my friends here in Chicago. They may also be surprised that I am excited about Rio de Janeiro, with hope and optimism that the much-publicized issues there will be resolved and that the Games will be incredible.

But I propose that we – the world, and Americans in particular – need the Olympic Games, now more than ever.

While having dinner the other night with a close friend, this topic came up, and in the midst of the conversation, he stopped me and asked: “how can you still be enthusiastic about the Olympics, after all that you went through?”

He was referring to the nearly four years I spent as chief bid officer in the effort to bring the 2016 Games to Chicago, and more specifically to the agonizing loss we suffered in the first round of IOC voting five years ago.

It was a valid question. After all, he was a part of that team, and he witnessed first-hand the emotional and physical toll that the arduous bid process had on all of us.

He was there when I had the unfortunate responsibility to personally deliver the news of our defeat to our chairman and to our mayor, who arrived at the convention center just minutes after the vote.

He saw our team members break down in tears at the realization that all of our work had not been enough, as my wife broke down in tears upon first seeing me a few hours later, and eventually as I too succumbed to the agony of that defeat.

But, no matter how bad my memories of that day may be, they are overwhelmed by the positive experiences, friendships and inspiration that came from being part of an incredible team working towards such an important goal.

I have written  previously  about the many positive legacies Chicago has realized as a result of that effort, and I harbor neither regrets nor ill will about the experience.

Conversely, my involvement in that effort inspired me, and it taught me of the power of the Olympic Movement; which lies not in the political machinations of members, federations, and lobbyists, but in the power of Sport to change lives, and the power of Olympic and Paralympic Athletes to inspire us all to be better, to do better, to do more.

This is inspiration we sorely need in our world; a world that is filled with tragedy, divisiveness and pain.

Negativity fills our daily lives; my 5-year old daughter asks why all the stories on the morning news are about negative topics; my 7-year old’s questions are even tougher, as she begins to grasp the nuances of racism, poverty, violence, and the fragility of human life.

It is rare to find examples of 'good news' to point towards, or role models to aspire to, but Sport fills this gap.

The positive impact of participation in sports is well-known, but there are similar benefits for spectators and hosts.

In fact, numerous studies have confirmed a correlation between the 'happiness' of a nation’s populace and the hosting of Olympic Games or World Cups.

Even more interesting, is that the national team’s performance (i.e., medal count) is not the driver of increased happiness in the population, the very act of hosting is what makes a difference.

The people of Brazil will welcome the world in 2016, and we’ll be awed and inspired by the power of Sport once more.

As I write this, news of a terrorist shooting in Paris is coming across TV, radio, Internet and social media.

Another tragic and senseless event; another reminder of all that divides us.

I can’t wait for next Olympic Games, and the opportunity to be reminded once again of all that unites us.
Olympians Worldwide Leading an Epic Workout All Day Long

To celebrate the day and engage couch potatoes everywhere, Olympians from across the globe are leading online workouts live on Instagram throughout the day.

This is a great way to pass some time, engage in a healthy, family-friendly activity and connect with some of the most elite athletes in Sport.
For live feeds and video posts from more athletes, visit the IOC's Instagram Channel
Actually, It's Ten Charts and Graphics Today

This webpage has some really awesome infographics and charts related to the Olympic Games. I urge you to check it out if you have a chance...
10 maps and charts that explain Summer Olympic Games -...

Email Tweet Share Share on Facebook Pin Pocket WhatsApp Telegram 1. Ancient olympic games According to historical records, the first ancient Olympic Games can be traced back to 776 BC. They were dedicated to the Olympian gods and were staged on...

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McKayla is Not Impressed
After performing an almost perfect vault in the 2012 London Games, Team USA Gymnast McKayla Mulroney looked poised to win Gold. Unfortunately, her second attempt ended in a fall and she had to settle for the Silver Medal.

A photo taken during the Medal Ceremony seemed to capture her feelings about the routine that captured Gold, and spawned a meme that placed McKayla in situations both historic and mundane to indicate that she was not impressed.
This concept is my way of sharing information and staying connected with my personal and professional network in these crazy times. Content is chosen based on what I think is interesting, entertaining and relevant, and there is no commercial aspect to any of it.

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Have a great day!