The XXXI Olympic Games! I love watching the personalities, the expertise and the passion of those competing in this 16-day athletic fest! The years of preparation often culminated into one event, sometimes lasting no longer than a minute! If one prepared so intensely for a sporting event, how much more intentionally should one prepare for eternity!
Did you know that there was a time when the Olympic Games, begun in Greece in the fifth century BC, were suspended? For 1500 years, there were no Olympic Games, until a Christian by the name of Pierre de Coubertin, a French aristocrat educated by Jesuits, revived them, complete with religious underpinnings. Raised in 19th-century war torn France, he “admired the ancient Greeks for the way they held a peace every four years to stage the Olympiad. In 1889, as a means of promoting peace between nations and remaking French athleticism, Pierre de Coubertin got the idea to revive the games.”
“On a trip to England, he encountered the work of Thomas Arnold, a Church of England deacon and a promoter of ‘muscular Christianity’–the idea of the pairing a physical strength with religious piety creates a well-rounded, moral and ethical men.” This is not unlike the adage, “sound body, sound mind”, or even more complete, what Christianity has espoused and embraced, that Jesus came to care for the whole person–body, mind, and spirit.
Anthony Moretti writes that “de Coubertin believed the Olympic athlete ’embodied a personal kind of sacred temple…he would be his own representation of the sacred body of believers.'”
“That belief undergirds the International Olympic Committee which de Coubertin founded in 1894. The first modern international games were held two years later, in Athens, and included many of the religious trappings of the ancient games, including olive-leaf crowns and sacred fire in the form of the Olympic flame.”
Finally, “the Olympic Games is THE international sports event because of the diversity of the sports, the number of faiths represented, the number of the countries participating” ( Anthony Moretti). There were 11,178 athletes from 205 countries participating in 306 events in the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro! If we can cooperate at this level in sporting events, why can’t we cooperate at this level on more important matters?