The Olympics have developed into the world's premier sporting event. They are simultaneously a competitive exhibition and a grand display of cooperation that bring together global cultures on ski slopes, shooting ranges, swimming pools, and track ovals. Given their scale in the modern era, the Games are a useful window for better comprehending larger cultural, social, and historical processes, argues Jules Boykoff, an academic social scientist and a former Olympic athlete.
In Activism and the Olympics, Boykoff provides a critical overview of the Olympic industry and its political opponents in the modern era. After presenting a brief history of Olympic activism, he turns his attention to on-the-ground activism through the lens of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Here we see how anti-Olympic activists deploy a range of approaches to challenge the Olympic machine, from direct action and the seizure of public space to humor-based and online tactics. Drawing on primary evidence from myriad personal interviews with activists, journalists, civil libertarians, and Olympics organizers, Boykoff angles in on the Games from numerous vantages and viewpoints.
Although modern Olympic authorities have strived—even through the Cold War era—to appear apolitical, Boykoff notes, the Games have always been the site of hotly contested political actions and competing interests. During the last thirty years, as the Olympics became an economic juggernaut, they also generated numerous reactions from groups that have sought to challenge the event’s triumphalism and pageantry. The 21st century has seen an increased level of activism across the world, from the Occupy Movement in the United States to the Arab Spring in the Middle East. What does this spike in dissent mean for Olympic activists as they prepare for future Games?
The Archaeology of the Olympics presents a stirring reevaluation of the Olympic Games (and related festivals) as they actually were, not as the ancient Greeks wished—and we still wish—they might have been. Historians, archaeologists, and classicists examine the evidence to ask such questions as, How did the athletes train? What did they eat? Can we trace the roots of the games as far back as the Bronze Age of Crete and Mycenae? Or even to Anatolia, where similar athletic activities occurred? Were the ancient games really so free of political overtones as modern Olympic rhetoric urges us to believe?
Cindy Bentley: Spirit of a Champion celebrates the life of one of Wisconsin's most inspirational leaders and activists. Born with an intellectual disability as the result of fetal alcohol syndrome, Cindy Bentley spent much of her childhood at the Southern Wisconsin Center for the Developmentally Disabled. No one expected her to learn the skills necessary to live on her own. To everyone's surprise, including her own, she did that and much more.
With the encouragement of a teacher at Southern Center, Cindy realized she had a deep passion for sports, and the discipline to train and compete. She began participating in Special Olympics, and gained confidence as she worked with teammates to earn medals in tennis, track and field, and even snowshoeing. Chosen as a Global Messenger for the Special Olympics International in 2000, Cindy has had dinner at the White House with two different American presidents, traveled around the world, and given speeches in front of thousands of people.
In these pages, young readers will learn what gives Cindy her champion spirit, and why she gave away some of her gold medals. Today, Cindy is still competing in Special Olympics. She also continues to advocate for people with disabilities, and helped to start People First, a statewide organization that encourages those with disabilities to speak up for their rights.
The Cold War was fought in every corner of society, including in the sport and entertainment industries. Recognizing the importance of culture in the battle for hearts and minds, the United States, like the Soviet Union, attempted to win the favor of citizens in nonaligned states through the soft power of sport. Athletes became de facto ambassadors of US interests, their wins and losses serving as emblems of broader efforts to shield American culture—both at home and abroad—against communism.
In Defending the American Way of Life, leading sport historians present new perspectives on high-profile issues in this era of sport history alongside research drawn from previously untapped archival sources to highlight the ways that sports influenced and were influenced by Cold War politics. Surveying the significance of sports in Cold War America through lenses of race, gender, diplomacy, cultural infiltration, anti-communist hysteria, doping, state intervention, and more, this collection illustrates how this conflict remains relevant to US sporting institutions, organizations, and ideologies today.
U-S-A , U-S-A is a familiar refrain heard in every Olympics, but truly it could be Wis-con-sin! Since pioneering hurdler Alvin Kraenzlein got his start here in the 1890s, the Badger State has nurtured, trained, or schooled more than 400 Olympic athletes in a vast array of sports. Wisconsin’s varied landscape and climate accommodate serious athletes whether they compete on ice, on snow, in the water, or on terra firma. We tend to bring a Midwestern work ethic to our endeavors, and our Olympians have often been hailed in the press and in public as being among the most humble and down-to-earth people around. Our state boasts a thriving youth sports culture where many homegrown athletes get their start; others are drawn here by our world-class universities, athletic facilities, and coaching talent. No matter how an athlete comes to Wisconsin, the state becomes part of his or her Olympic story. In Going for Wisconsin Gold, author Jessie Garcia provides insights into the lives of athletes who grew up or spent time in Wisconsin on their journey to the Olympic Games. She shares some of our competitors most captivating tales—from those that have become legend, like Dan Jansen’s heartbreaking falls and subsequent magical gold, to unlikely brushes with glory (do you know which Green Bay Packer was almost an Olympic high jumper?). Featuring the athletes’ personal stories, many of them told here in detail for the first time, plus pictures from their private collections, Going for Wisconsin Gold provides a new and deeper understanding of the sacrifices, joy, pain, heartbreak, and complete dedication it takes to reach the world’s grandest sporting competition.
Once a showcase for amateur athletics, the Olympic Games have become a global entertainment colossus powered by corporate sponsorship and professional participation. Stephen R. Wenn and Robert K. Barney offer the inside story of this transformation by examining the far-sighted leadership and decision-making acumen of four International Olympic Committee (IOC) presidents: Avery Brundage, Lord Killanin, Juan Antonio Samaranch, and Jacques Rogge. Blending biography with historical storytelling, the authors explore the evolution of Olympic commercialism from Brundage's uneasy acceptance of television rights fees through the revenue generation strategies that followed the Salt Lake City bid scandal to the present day. Throughout, Wenn and Barney draw on their decades of studying Olympic history to dissect the personalities, conflicts, and controversies behind the Games' embrace of the business of spectacle. Entertaining and expert, The Gold in the Rings maps the Olympics' course from paragon of purity to billion-dollar profits.
Winner, 2019 Booker Worthen Prize from the Central Arkansas Library System.
A dedicated advocate for social justice long before the term entered everyday usage, Rabbi Ira Sanders began striving against the Jim Crow system soon after he arrived in Little Rock from New York in 1926. Sanders, who led Little Rock’s Temple B’nai Israel for nearly forty years, was a trained social worker as well as a rabbi and his career as a dynamic religious and community leader in Little Rock spanned the traumas of the Great Depression, World War II and the Holocaust, and the social and racial struggles of the 1950s and 1960s.
Just and Righteous Causes—a full biographical study of this bold social-activist rabbi—examines how Sanders expertly navigated the intersections of race, religion, and gender to advocate for a more just society. It joins a growing body of literature about the lives and histories of Southern rabbis, deftly balancing scholarly and narrative tones to provide a personal look into the complicated position of the Southern rabbi and the Jewish community throughout the political struggles of the twentieth-century South.
One day in front of the television
would convince any alien that the entirety of American culture is built
around sports. Politics and business are abustle with sports metaphors
and endorsements by athletes. "Home runs," "bottom of the
ninth," "fourth and ten," "slam dunk," and similar
phrases litter the daily vocabulary. No matter how dire the news, sports
will be reported as usual. How did this single-minded fascination come
Mark Dyreson locates the invasion
of sport at the heart of American culture at the turn of the century.
It was then that social reformers and political leaders believed that
sport could revitalize the "republican experiment," that a new
sense of national identity could forge a new sense of community and a
healthy political order as it would serve to link America's thinking classes
with the experiences of the masses. Nowhere was this better exemplified
than in American accounts of the Olympic Games held between 1896 and 1912.
In connecting sport to American history and culture, Dyreson has stepped
up to the plate and hit one out of the park. A volume in the series Sport and Society, edited by Benjamin G. Rader and Randy Roberts
The 1936 Olympic Games played a key role in the development of both Hitler’s Third Reich and international sporting competition. This volume gathers original essays by modern scholars from the Games’ most prominent participating countries and lays out the issues -- sporting as well as political -- surrounding individual nations’ involvement.
The Nazi Olympics opens with an analysis of Germany’s preparations for the Games and the attempts by the Nazi regime to allay the international concerns about Hitler’s racist ideals and expansionist ambitions.
Essays follow on the United States, Great Britain, and France -- three first-class Olympian nations with misgivings about participation -- as well as German ally Italy and future ally Japan. Other essays examine the issues at stake in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands, which opposed Hitler’s politics, despite embodying his Aryan ideal.
Challenging the view of sport as a trivial pursuit, this collection reveals exactly how high the political stakes were in 1936 and how the Nazi Olympics distilled many of the critical geopolitical issues of the time into a contest that was anything but trivial.
In 2013 and 2014, some of Massachusetts’ wealthiest and most powerful individuals hatched an audacious plan to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Boston. Like their counterparts in cities around the world, Boston’s Olympic boosters promised political leaders, taxpayers, and the media that the Games would deliver incalculable benefits and require little financial support from the public. Yet these advocates refused to share the details of their bid and only grudgingly admitted, when pressed, that their plan called for billions of dollars in construction of unneeded venues. To win the bid, the public would have to guarantee taxpayer funds to cover cost overruns, which have plagued all modern Olympic Games. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) chose Boston 2024’s bid over that of other American cities in January 2015—and for a time it seemed inevitable that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would award the Games to Boston 2024. No Boston Olympics is the story of how an ad hoc, underfunded group of diverse and engaged citizens joined together to challenge and ultimately derail Boston’s boosters, the USOC, and the IOC. Chris Dempsey was cochair of No Boston Olympics, the group that first voiced skepticism, demanded accountability, and catalyzed dissent. Andrew Zimbalist is a world expert on the economics of sports, and the leading researcher on the hidden costs of hosting mega-events such as the Olympics and the World Cup. Together, they tell Boston’s story, while providing a blueprint for citizens who seek to challenge costly, wasteful, disruptive, and risky Olympic bids in their own cities.
The Olympic Games are a phenomenon of unparalleled global proportions. This book examines the rich and complex involvement of Latin America and the Caribbean peoples with the Olympic Movement, serving as an effective medium to explore the making of this region. The nine essays here investigate the influence, struggles, and contributions of Latin American and Caribbean societies to the Olympic Movement. By delving into nationalist political movements, post-revolutionary diplomacy, decolonization struggles, gender and disability discourses, and more, they define how the nations of this region have shaped and been shaped by the Olympic Movement.
The Olympics thrill the world with spectacle and drama. They also carry a cultural and social significance that goes beyond the stadium, athletes, and fans. The Games are arenas in which individual and team athletic achievement intersect with the politics of national identity in a global context.
The Olympics at the Millennium offers groundbreaking essays that explore the cultural politics of the Games. The contributors investigate such topics as the emergence of women athletes as cultural commodities, the orchestrated spectacles of the opening and closing ceremonies, and the alternative sport culture offered via the Gay Games. Unforgettable events and decisions are discussed: Native American athlete Jim Thorpe winning—and losing—his two gold medals in 1912. Why America was one of the few countries to actually send Jewish athletes to the “Nazi Olympics.” The disqualification of champion Ewa Klobukowska from competing as a woman, due to chromosomal testing in 1967.
With the 2000 Sydney Games imminent, several essays address concerns with which every host country must contend, such as the threat of terrorism. Highlighting the difficult issues of racism and nationalism, another article explores the efforts of this country’s aboriginal people to define a role for themselves in the 2000 Games, as they struggle with ongoing discrimination. And with the world watching, Sydney faces profound pressure to implement a successful Olympics, as a matter of national pride.
"A major contribution to the study of global events in times of global media. Owning the Olympics tests the possibilities and limits of the concept of 'media events' by analyzing the mega-event of the information age: the Beijing Olympics. . . . A good read from cover to cover."
—Guobin Yang, Associate Professor, Asian/Middle Eastern Cultures & Sociology, Barnard College, Columbia University
From the moment they were announced, the Beijing Games were a major media event and the focus of intense scrutiny and speculation. In contrast to earlier such events, however, the Beijing Games are also unfolding in a newly volatile global media environment that is no longer monopolized by broadcast media. The dramatic expansion of media outlets and the growth of mobile communications technology have changed the nature of media events, making it significantly more difficult to regulate them or control their meaning. This volatility is reflected in the multiple, well-publicized controversies characterizing the run-up to Beijing 2008. According to many Western commentators, the People's Republic of China seized the Olympics as an opportunity to reinvent itself as the "New China"---a global leader in economics, technology, and environmental issues, with an improving human-rights record. But China's maneuverings have also been hotly contested by diverse global voices, including prominent human-rights advocates, all seeking to displace the official story of the Games.
Bringing together a distinguished group of scholars from Chinese studies, human rights, media studies, law, and other fields, Owning the Olympics reveals how multiple entities---including the Chinese Communist Party itself---seek to influence and control the narratives through which the Beijing Games will be understood.
digitalculturebooks is an imprint of the University of Michigan Press and the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library dedicated to publishing innovative and accessible work exploring new media and their impact on society, culture, and scholarly communication. Visit the website at www.digitalculture.org.
For decades, amateurism defined the ideals undergirding the Olympic movement. No more. Today's Games present athletes who enjoy open corporate sponsorship and unabashedly compete for lucrative commercial endorsements.
Matthew P. Llewellyn and John Gleaves analyze how this astonishing transformation took place. Drawing on Olympic archives and a wealth of research across media, the authors examine how an elite--white, wealthy, often Anglo-Saxon--controlled and shaped an enormously powerful myth of amateurism. The myth assumed an air of naturalness that made it seem unassailable and, not incidentally, served those in power. Llewellyn and Gleaves trace professionalism's inroads into the Olympics from tragic figures like Jim Thorpe through the shamateur era of under-the-table cash and state-supported athletes. As they show, the increasing acceptability of professionals went hand-in-hand with the Games becoming a for-profit international spectacle. Yet the myth of amateurism's purity remained a potent force, influencing how people around the globe imagined and understood sport.
Timely and vivid with details, The Rise and Fall of Olympic Amateurism is the first book-length examination of the movement's foundational ideal.
The original scheme for the modern Olympic Games was hatched at an international sports conference at the Sorbonne in June 1894. At the time, few provisions were made for the financial underwriting of the project—providence and the beneficence of host cities would somehow take care of the costs. For much of the first century of modern Olympic history, this was the case, until the advent of television and corporate sponsorship transformed that idealism.
Now, linking with the five-ring logo is good business. Advertising during the Olympic Games guarantees a global audience unmatched in size by any other sports audience in the world. However, if the image begins to tarnish and the corporate sector loses interest, television companies can’t sell advertising to business interests. This was the greatest threat posed by the scandal surrounding Salt Lake City’s bid.
Selling the Five Rings outlines the rise of the Olympic movement from an envisioned instrument of peace and brotherhood, to a transnational commercial giant of imposing power and influence. Using primary source documents such as minutes of the IOC General Sessions, minutes and reports of various IOC sub-committees and commissions concerned with finance, reports of key marketing agencies, and the letters and memoranda written to and by the major figures in Olympic history, the authors track the history of a fascinating global institution.
n 1968, Tommie Smith and his teammate John Carlos won the gold and silver medals, respectively, for the 200 meter dash. Receiving their medals on the dais, they raised their fists and froze a moment in time that will forever be remembered as a powerful day of protest. In this, his autobiography, Smith tells the story of that moment, and of his life before and after it, to explain what that moment meant to him.
In Silent Gesture, Smith recounts his life before and after the 1968 Olympics: his life-long commitment to athletics, education, and human rights. He dispels some of the myths surrounding his and Carlos' act on the dais -- contrary to legend, Smith wasn't a member of the Black Panthers, but a member of the US Olympic Project for Human Rights -- and describes in detail the planning and risks involved in his protest. Smith also details his many years after Mexico City of devotion to human rights, athletics, and education. A unique resource for anyone concerned with international sports, history, and the African American experience, Silent Gesture contributes a complete picture of one of the most famous moments in sports history, and of a man whose actions always matched his words.
Competing in the 1986 National College Games of the People's Republic of China, Susan Brownell earned both a gold medal in the heptathlon and fame throughout China as "the American girl who won glory for Beijing University." Now an anthropologist, Brownell draws on her direct experience of Chinese athletics in this fascinating look at the culture of sports and the body in China.
Training the Body for China is the first book on Chinese sports based on extended fieldwork by a Westerner. Brownell introduces the notion of "body culture" to analyze Olympic sports as one element in a whole set of Chinese body practices: the "old people's disco dancing" craze, the new popularity of bodybuilding (following reluctant official acceptance of the bikini), mass calisthenics, martial arts, military discipline, and more.
Translating official and dissident materials into English for the first time and drawing on performance theory and histories of the body, Brownell uses the culture of the body as a focal point to explore the tensions between local and global organizations, the traditional and the modern, men and women. Her intimate knowledge of Chinese social and cultural life and her wide range of historic examples make Training the Body for China a unique illustration of how gender, the body, and the nation are interlinked in Chinese culture.