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The Olympic Games

July 20, 2008

Hello again,

The Olympic games in China next month should provide a rich source of lesson material so it’s a good idea for schools to start collecting materials now. Firstly the topic is interesting in itself: from the original games that took place...

... in 776 BC to the modern equivalent that started in 1859. The history of the games is littered with incidents and controversy that students can explore.

Secondly, the Olympic ideals are interesting to discuss. In an age when footballers, for example, command mega-salaries, the idea of amateur games seems idealistic. They represent a supposedly high-principled attitude to sport that encourages people to develop their physical skills not for money but for their own well-being and to represent the best of their country. And the Games have expanded over recent years to include a separate event for those with physical and mental disabilities, making the Olympics a truly inclusive affair. Yet, despite these ideals and the amateur status of the participants, the Games are still mired by drug scandals.

The political aspects of the Games are equally fascinating both historically and currently. There have been boycotts of the Games, the misuse of the Olympics showcase for political ends and there have been acts of terrorism. A movement that represents high ideals cannot, it seems, escape the murkiness of political machinations. This years’ events, of course, are no different. As the Olympic torch has made is way around the world, demonstrations against the host country have dogged its progress as people concerned with Tibet and with human rights have raised their objections to China.

Then there is the all the language to be exploited in the sports domain itself. And, as we talk about competition, winning losing, training, representing, funding etc., we can see how the language of sport also dominates the world of business. Some interesting discussion points there.

Finally, as the Games get under way, students can find out about the individuals representing their country and follow their progress. Enjoy!

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