In celebration of the 150th birthday of Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic Games, the United States Sports Academy has begun working with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to develop an online course that can be delivered worldwide.
This major effort calls for the development of an online course that celebrates both the life and work of Coubertin, a Frenchman who lived from 1863 to 1937, and his Olympic philosophy of peace, internationalism, fair play, and sport for all among other tenants.
The Academy is one of the few universities in the United States currently that offers courses on Olympism. The institution, also known as “America’s Sports University,” worked with the IOC and first began offering its Olympic courses 10 years ago, primarily to doctoral students in the Academy’s Sports Management program. The university also offers four other courses focused on the Olympics, as part of an emphasis on Olympism that students can take as electives.
Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich sits on the IOC’s Commission for Culture and Olympic Education, which advises the IOC on the promotion of culture and Olympic education and supports the IOC programs and activities related to the education of youth through sport.
Over the past several months, Dr. Rosandich has held discussions about developing a new course about Coubertin on his 150th anniversary with IOC members, including Dr. Tomas Sithole, the IOC’s Director of the Department of International Cooperation and Development. He also met with Dr. Norbert Mueller, who is president of the Pierre de Coubertin Society and an author of a comprehensive book on Coubertin.
“The Olympic Movement started by Coubertin has brought our nations together peacefully like no other movement in our history and it is something worth celebrating around the globe,” Dr. Rosandich says.
Sithole says he would like to see Coubertin and his philosophy and teachings on the Olympic Games reach even more people around the world in the future through a new online course. Included in the course are Mueller’s 862-page book and a 30-minute movie on Coubertin.
“We want to engage young people across the world and promote sport education and Olympic values,” said Sithole, who visited the Academy after attending the United Nations for recent talks about using sport to enhance the development of youth and peace.
During his trip in 1889 and 1890 to the United States and Canada, Coubertin stopped in Mobile, Ala., which is across Mobile Bay from the Academy’s headquarters in Daphne, Ala., while visiting several universities, colleges, and high schools to learn more about the North American educational systems and sporting organizations.
After his travels to North America, Coubertin began working in 1890 to revive the ancient Olympic Games that originated in Greece. After a failed effort in 1892, he organized the International Athletics Congress in Paris in 1894, which led to the International Olympic Committee becoming established and the modern Olympic Games being born. Coubertin, who was born in Paris on Jan. 1, 1863, then took over as IOC President and held that position for 29 years until 1925, when he became Honorary President for life.
Although Coubertin was not the first to propose the revival of the Olympic Games, he was certainly responsible for “the creation of a festival of international athleticism.” It was Coubertin who organized a meeting with 79 delegates from nine countries who voted unanimously to hold the first Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens.
During his efforts to reestablish the Olympics, Coubertin argued at a meeting of the Union des Sports Athlétiques in Paris on Nov. 25, 1892: “Let us export our oarsmen, our runners, our fencers into other lands. That is the true Free Trade of the future; and the day it is introduced into Europe the cause of Peace will have received a new and strong ally. It inspires me to touch upon another step I now propose and in it I shall ask that the help you have given me hitherto you will extend again, so that together we may attempt to realize, upon a basis suitable to the conditions of our modern life, the splendid and beneficent task of reviving the Olympic Games.”
Olympic involvement has been a longtime hallmark of the Academy, the largest graduate school of sport education in the world. Dr. Rosandich, who founded the university in 1972, has served as the national track and field coach for several different countries at the Summer Olympic Games. Also, the Academy has overseen the United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) national sport and art contest for the past four Olympiads.
In addition, the Academy recently received a major donation of 59 valuable copies of official Olympic Reports and other publications dating back to 1896, a complete collection of art from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, and several sport sculptures from Richard and Lorrie Greene of San Francisco. The Olympic publications and artwork will be displayed at the Academy’s American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA), which arguably holds the largest public collection of sport art in the world.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, nonprofit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and the world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.