Olympics and History of the Modern Games St. Louis 1904 Part 2

About the Olympics and the modern games, account of the games in St. Louis, United States in 1904

ST. LOUIS, MO., U.S., 1904

Remembering Robert Garrett's unstylish victory of 1896, the Greeks had 2 discus events--freestyle and Greek style--but Werner Jarvinen won the latter, the 1st of many Finnish victories over the years. Greek tradesmen again offered lifetime services for a native-born marathon winner, but Canadian William Sherring, only 115 lbs., won the race.

Austrian weightlifter Josef Steinbach was accused of being a professional and was so jeered when going against the Greek champion that he left the arena. While the Greek was being honored as 2-hand winner, Steinbach came back and, with exaggerated ease, raised the weight, barely lifted by the Greek, over his head 3 times. The next day, he won the one-hand lifting competition before a subdued audience.

The question of amateur v. professional athletes has plagued Olympic committees, athletes, and sports enthusiasts since the games' ancient origins. De Coubertin insisted, and was supported by others on the original committee, that the Olympics be free of professionalism and commercialism. Rules require competitors to sign a statement that they have never been paid for playing or coaching sports, and do not intend to become professionals. Avery Brundage, longtime U.S. Olympic official, espoused strict amateurism in the face of criticism that the costs of constant training, necessary to win at the Olympics, means that athletes must find some kind of subsidy--whether state-paid token jobs, as in the Soviet Union, or athletic scholarships, as in the U.S. By the spirit, if not by the law, very few Olympic competitors could technically qualify as amateurs since there are time limits on the amount of training, and limitations on gifts.

Another philosophical issue is team scoring and its inherent nationalism. The IOC has always tried to keep nationalism to a minimum in favor of individual achievement. Team scoring is unofficial, not sanctioned by the IOC. But teams, spectators, and the press (and sometimes even officials) encourage nationalism. Major powers have often used the success of their Olympic athletes as fuel for their rivalries.

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