The Place and Role of Olympism in Higher Education

### Introduction

Interpreting the place and role of Olympism in higher education is a necessary and pertinent issue. The close relationship between the Olympic Movement and universities dates back as far as 1894. The fact that the IOC was established at Sorbonne University – the “temple of science,” as Pierre de Coubertin called it – contributed to this, as did Coubertin himself. The development of sport, as well as the importance and social impact of the Olympic Games, later prompted interest among individual researchers and teams of scholars at universities. The general interest among universities in Olympism and the Olympic Games in the 1980s intensified their direct and indirect cooperation with the Olympic Movement, both in terms of education and research (c.f. Morgas, 2006). Another mediator in this process comprised the activities of the IOC and the IOA, as well as the establishment of a new Olympic Museum, which has been illustrating the connection between Olympism, sport, and culture since 1993, whilst also developing and supporting the concept of education and research projects at universities. Nonetheless, the educational and research leanings of universities, as well as the forms in which they cooperate with national Olympic Movements and the themes that have been dealt with, often differ. National specificity is important in this regard. Consequently, the starting point for our report is the Czech Republic, which makes no claims to represent the general situation.

### Why is Olympism taught and researched at universities in the Czech Republic?

* It is the Olympic Movement’s mission to cooperate with the academic community.
* The development of the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games cannot do without academic reflections on their social impact.
* Apart from other things, the implementation of Olympic values in university curricula programmes has also been caused by a crisis in general concepts of education, which students find too theoretical, formal, and verbose.
* The autonomy of the Olympic Movement and universities, as well as their economic security and the coordination and harmonisation of research and education, are basic preconditions for their effective cooperation.
* Physical education and sports at primary and secondary schools, as well as at universities, should not only comprise sports training but should also have an Olympic and humanist dimension.
* The Olympic Movement needs experts and specialists. Universities can offer and arrange training for them, along with academic research and a specialist service.
* For the time being, we cannot be entirely satisfied with the role of primary and secondary schools as well as universities in disseminating the Olympic idea and Olympic culture.

### Implementing Olympism in the education programmes of Czech universities and faculties

Olympism, is a set of principles, ideas, visions, and challenges. Coubertin described it in not completely systematic terms as a philosophy of life with the principles of a cult of effort, eurhythmics, and a love of exercise, but also as a state of mind (c.f. Naul, 2009). Consequently, as far back as the end of the 19th century, in his philosophical, psychological, and educational musings, Coubertin already understood that sport and exercise were becoming important actors in culture as well as a means of educating and communicating across different civilisations.

Besides by the original ideas of Pierre de Coubertin, Olympism is enriched by other ideas and objectives in the Olympic Charter. These comprise reflections on the development of the Olympic Movement, sport, and culture as well as their mutual relationships (c.f. Georgiadis, 2003). Nonetheless, they also include reflections on applying the results of academic research.

As we shall illustrate below, two different approaches have been pursued in incorporating Olympism into curricula at Czech universities for training experts in physical education and sports. At other universities and faculties, the implementation of Olympism is not yet systematic and is influenced by specialists operating in the fields of philosophy, sociology, ethics, aesthetics, etc.

#### A) Implementing Olympic themes in social science curriculum subjects for training physical education specialists

Wherever Olympism cannot be applied as a separate study subject, Olympic themes are chosen and taught according to the graduates’ future work. They are primarily taught in social and sports subjects, but are also developed in courses for sports disciplines in both bachelor’s and master’s studies. As future teachers, trainers, instructors, etc., physical education students learn basic Olympic knowledge, skills and competences for their future activity in several study subjects.

Tables 1.
Implementing Olympic themes in curriculum subjects at physical education faculties in the Czech Republic

Man and the World — General Themes Olympic Themes, Knowledge, Skills, and Competences of Students Academic Disciplines and Study Subjects
The coexistence of people coming together; respecting ethical principles knowing the importance of sport as a means of bringing people together. Understanding the Olympic Games as a means of mutual understanding, friendship, solidarity and honest competition philosophy, sports philosophy, ethics, sports psychology
Human behaviour, national minorities, foreigners understanding and assessing the importance of the Olympic Charter, the role of Olympic ideals in respecting people of different nations, races and cultures, rejecting any kind of discrimination ethics, philosophy, sports philosophy, sports psychology, sports education
Building a peaceful and better wold applying youth education through sports, obser-ving Olympic principles, and setting a personal example; knowing the importance of ekecheiria in historical and contemporary reflections philosophy, sociology, sports sciences, sports activities
Personal safety, violence in society, socially undesirable behaviour realising and distinguishing the differences between polite encouragement for sports teams and various forms of direct or transferred aggression at sports matches (football, hockey) sports sociology, sports psychology, legislation, the law in sport
International and national institutions and organisations knowing and distinguishing governmental and non-governmental international and national Olympic organisations, as well as the international and national sports federations sports management, law, sports sociology
Basic human rights and citizens’ obligations understanding sport as a human right, knowing the International Charter of Physical Education and Sport as well as the European Charter of Sport and examples of their application legislation and the law in sport, ethics, sports philosophy, sports sociology
Getting to know people valuing the Olympic Movement and sport as a means of knowing and understanding other people; the Olympic Games as a meeting of young people from all over the world sports philosophy, sports sociology, sports psychology
Self-knowledge understanding Olympism as a state of mind and self-knowledge through sport, joy in efforts made; forming positive attitudes to sport sports psychology, sports philosophy
Interpersonal relationships managing to perceive manifestations of intole-rance in people’s behaviour, unfair and fair beha-viour in life and in sport; managing to shape a situation for the development fair-play behaviour ethics, sports psychology, sociology, sports sociology
Interpersonal relationships managing to perceive manifestations of intole-rance in people’s behaviour, unfair and fair beha-viour in life and in sport; managing to shape a situation for the development fair-play behaviour ethics, sports psychology, sociology, sports sociology
Interpersonal communication recognizes the importance of sport and sports “competitions” and overcome oneself in human communication. Managing to prepare and organise sports competitions in schools and in clubs in accordance with Olympic principles active participation in sports competitions, Olympic days and festivals for young people, sports management
Human solidarity knowing and being able to explain the role and importance of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Olympic Charter, sports history, ethics
Value system knowing and being able to interpret and evaluate the main Olympic values and the principles of their internalization sports history, sports philosophy, axiology
Human activity, Work, Leisure Time Olympic Themes, Knowledge, Skills and Competences of Students Academic Disciplines and Study Subjects
Leisure time and the use of this time understanding and evaluating sport as one of the most mass forms of leisure-time activities, identifying sport as a means of educating the young, health and delinquent prevention sports philosophy, sports education, biomedicine
An active lifestyle appreciating and understanding Olympism as an active life philosophy and style with sport and exercise playing an important role, adopting a positive attitude to it development sports philosophy, ethics, sports education, sports sociology
Forms and manifestations of culture in society understanding and valuing sport as one of the forms of physical culture; multiculturalism aesthetics, sports philoso-phy, cultural anthropology, artistic competitions: literature, music, drama
Culture, art and sport Being able to describe and explain the relationship between Olympism, sport, culture and art, the principle of kalokagathia, knowing important works of art as a cultural legacy aesthetics, sports philoso-phy, cultural anthropolo-gy, artistic competitions – literature, art, music and drama
History Olympic Themes, Knowledge, Skills and Competences of Students Academic Disciplines and Study Subjects
Antiquity sport and games in antiquity understanding ancient Olympic traditions, understanding the purpose and mission of the ancient Olympic Games, appreciating the importance of antiquity in modern Olympism sports history, sports philosophy, aesthetics
The origin of international sport and the Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin knowing the founder of the modern Olympic Games, Olympic symbolism. Understanding the important and mission of the Olympic Games, Olympic institutions and organisations sports history, philosophy, sports philosophy, sports management
Man and Health Olympic Themes, Knowledge, Skills and Competences of Students Academic Disciplines and Study Subjects
The preventive importance of exercise and sport understanding and being able to explain the health importance of active exercise and sport. Being able to shape a situation for overcome one-self, the importance of interpersonal competition biomedicine, health physical education, sports physiology, sports sociology
Addictive drugs, health, doping knowing the detrimental nature of stimulants, prohibited means of performance enhancement in sport, understanding the destructive signify-cance of doping in personal self-development biomedicine, health physical education, sports physiology, hygiene, ethics, sports psychology
Doping and preventive anti-doping measures understanding the essence of the fight and campaign against doping in sport, the causes for the fight against its misuse, knowing the main principles of preventive anti-doping measures biomedicine, biochemistry, sports physiology, hygiene, ethics, sports psychology
Physical Education a Sport Olympic Themes, Knowledge, Skills and Competences of Students Academic Disciplines and Study Subjects
Olympic Charter, Olympic ideals, Olympic ceremonials, symbols valuing the importance of Olympic ideas, their reaching beyond sport, fair competition even in extreme situations in games and contests, nature conservation in sport, assistance for the handicapped, etc. sports philosophy, sports sociology, sports psychology, nature conservation, health physical education

#### B) Olympism as a separate instructional and educational subject in the curriculum

Universities together with Czech Olympic Academy are jointly taking part in formulating the content of the curriculum for Olympic education at primary and secondary schools (c.f. Rychtecký & Dovalil, 2009). Apart from this, private and public universities and sports faculties are also creating their own implied “Olympic” subjects, which they offer their students in a obligatory or elective form in bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral studies. The most frequent names given to mostly elective subjects taught at the sports and educational faculties of universities in the Czech Republic are, “Olympism” and “Olympic Education.” Their content is based on the themes in the table, but it is taught in a condensed form.

A common and unifying basis for an Olympism curriculum at universities is the textbook, _Olympism_ compiled by a team of authors from universities as well as specialists and experts from the Olympic Movement. It was published in 2004 with the support of the Czech Olympic Committee and contains the following chapter topics: Sport; Pierre de Coubertin, Philosophy of Olympism; Relations of Sport, Olympism and Culture; Antique Inspirations; Olympic Symbols and Ceremonies; Olympic Movement; Brief History of the Olympic Movement; Olympic Games; Czech Olympic Movement; Financing of the Olympic Movement; Sport for All in the Olympic Movement; Women and Sport in the Olympic Movement; the Ecological Dimension in Olympism; Olympism and Arts; Sport and Olympism in the Examination of Time; Future of Olympism; Olympic Education; Education in Sport. The textbook is used by university students, as well as by experts and interested persons of the Olympic Movement in the Czech Republic.

### Olympism as a subject of research at Czech universities

An analysis of contemporary Olympism indicates that its declaratory and concise expression in the Olympic Charter does not provide a sufficiently vivid picture or answers to questions such as, “What exactly is Olympism?” This brevity, due to the nature of the Charter, currently also poses a challenge for this unique social phenomenon to be more comprehensively analysed and interpreted in the broader context of social, sports, and natural sciences at universities. Moreover, the mission of the IOC and IOA, NOCs and NOAs (also cited at the 13th Olympic Congress in Copenhagen last year) is to develop, protect, and spread the principles of Olympism and Olympic values in physical education and sports programmes at schools and universities.

### Olympism in the context of academic research

![Figure. 1: Olympism and the Olympic Movement in the system of academic disciplines](http://thesportjournal.org/files/special-edition-olympism/rychtecky-figure-1.png)
Figure. 1: Olympism and the Olympic Movement in the system of academic disciplines

Olympism transcends sport, both as a set of preferred values and within a cultural framework. In many cases, it advocates sport (c.f. Parry, 1998; Jegorov, 2001). Consequently, incorporating Olympic themes into university research projects in social and sports sciences is of crucial significance, both for the academic and subsequent education activities of universities. In the next section, we shall recall selected methodological problems and stereotypes, which sometimes appear in basic and applied research on Olympism and the Olympic Games, and are transferred to education activities.

### Philosophy, sports philosophy, and Olympism

In historical and contemporary reflections, philosophy devotes itself to the anthropological and aretological characteristics of sports competitions, as well as to the socio-political, religious, aesthetic, and symbolic attributes of Olympism and the Olympic Games. The general goal is to create a consistent philosophy for the Olympic ideal. The aretological and anthropological dimensions of the Olympic Games are linked to the values of the body and mind, as well as the limits of educational values in sport. Stereotypes in the philosophical interpretation of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement include the fact that their transcendent wholes are underestimated. The Olympic Games contain virtues and a further disctintion of the attributes of perfection, glory, goodness, heroism, grace, etc. Some of these are particularly important because they involve crucial issues concerning human consciousness and existence. Olympism and the Olympic Games are no exception in this respect (c.f. Eyler, 1981). Besides by philosophy and sports philosophy, Olympism is also examined by other philosophical disciplines and sub-disciplines, i.e. the philosophy of art, comparative philosophy, ontology, phenomenology, the philosophy of gender, axiology, etc. (First World Olympic Congress of Philosophy, Athens, 2004).

### Sociology, sports sociology, and Olympism

In sociology and the sociology of sport, the following questions are posed in an analytical (sometimes not sufficiently defined) context and relationship to sport and Olympism:

* What is so specific in the Olympic Movement, which has been systematically extending its influence for more than a century despite counterarguments that Olympism is “running out of steam?”
* How has sport and Olympism changed over time and in the wider social context?
* What is the public image of sport, the Olympic Games, and the Olympic Movement, etc.?

Without answers to these and other questions, any examinations of sport, and Olympism will be reductive and restrictive in terms of their insights in sociological descriptions of modern societies (c.f. Pawłucki, 2009).

### Psychology, sports psychology, and Olympism

Research in sports psychology interprets the Olympic ideals, which facilitate an overlap of personal excellence and the development of performance (c.f. Cross & Jones, 2007; Gould, Collins, Lauer& Chung, 2006). Coubertin’s concept of Olympism as a “state of mind” is nothing other than an emotional, personality, and intra-individual overlap and means of overcoming oneself, as expressed in the motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius.” It comprises the most important component of an individual’s motivation structure for sport and performance. Consequently, Coubertin’s cult of effort is always more important than external motivations – the stimulation of performance through external incentives. Therefore, competition in the spirit of Olympism primarily has a self-reconciling and self-improving significance while achieving maximum individual performance (c.f. Shields & Bredemeier, 1995; Müller, 2000). Sports psychology seeks adequate answers to the following frequently asked questions:

* How can one bridge the gap between Olympic ideals and the application of contemporary methods of operation used in sports training for youths (incentives, inappropriate awards)?
* Does sport always have a positive impact on personal development?

It is apparent, however, that motivation which emphasises victory at all costs may have a negative influence on the behaviour of sports people, and can lead to bribery or cheating (c.f. Miller & Kerr, 2002).

### Education, sports education, and Olympism

Coubertin understood sport as an educational instrument – a school of moral chivalry, purity, and physical force. The content, aim, and outcome of this education comprise attitudes and interiorised Olympic values. Current concepts of Olympic education have been updated through systematic research, just as the Olympism and Olympic education textbook have been. Research in education and sports education has also raised other questions:

* How, and by which means and methods, is it possible for an individual as a subject of education to identify with Olympic values through sport?
* Has contemporary sport lost its former values for young people?

Doubt is sometimes cast on sport as an edifying instrument with the assertions that the development of qualities and skills is not always linked to participation in sport. This is true because merely participating in sport does not automatically impact upon the personal development of a subject. Nevertheless, sport without ideals can increase one’s tolerance of cheating, both in terms of one’s competitors and the person themselves (c.f. Gould, Collins, Lauer & Chung, 2006).

### Ethics, Olympismus, and the Olympic Games

Fair play and respect for one’s competitors develop through active participation in sport and are preconditions for free competition without discrimination (Olympic Charter, 2004). The Olympic Movement aspires also to spread these values beyond the realm of sport (c.f. Dziubiński, 2008). “Sport is and should remain a forum where everyone has a chance to actively participate and develop in it. Consequently, sport is a human right, but it is not possible to separate it from the rest of the world” (c.f. Rogge, 2004).

### Culture, art, and Olympism

The original Greek ideal of _Kalokgathia_ became the model and moderator for the personal development of sports people. The stereotype in looking at the reality of the Olympic Movement is that, in our traditional education, we are strongly influenced by rational thinking adapted to the one truth. The Cartesian ideal of the one truth was the foundation stone of modern science and has been particularly successful in natural sciences. Sometimes, however, this ideal fails in the demanding and critical situations and problems of the Olympic Movement. Art, however, offers a grasp of reality which cannot be provided by modern rationalism. In the critical and difficult reality of its context, which is not focused on the one truth only, art can describe a given situation more precisely than science. Culture in Olympism and sport, however, does not mean abandoning rationalism and Europe’s cultural heritage.

### Conclusions

* The IOC and NOCs should systematically support research in universities focused on Olympism, the Olympic Movement, and the Olympic Games. The 13th Olympic Congress in Copenhagen last year confirmed the importance and prospects of cooperation among the Olympic family and educational institutions.
* In cooperation with NOAs and OSCs, universities should focus part of their research and educational capacities on current issues concerning the Olympic Movement.
* Olympism, the principles, values, and relationship of Olympism to sport and culture should be an integral part of professional training for future teachers, coaches, managers, etc.
* The results of research activities in Olympism should be subsequently a predicate of education programmes and systematically developed in university concepts of Olympic education programmes. They may be applied as a separate educational subject or as a set of selected Olympic themes included in the content of education for social sciences and sports subjects.
* Cooperation between Olympic institutions and universities is beneficial, not only for the development of a deeper and more comprehensive interpretation of Olympism in historical and contemporary reflections, but also for the development of sports and social sciences, as well as for sport itself and its relationship with culture. Today, without the ideas and principles of Olympism, it is not possible to assess sport in its complex and rapid development, or to assess the evolution of society in the 20th and 21st centuries.
* The master’s programme on Olympic Studies entitled “Olympic Studies, Olympic Education, Organisation and Management of Olympic Events,” which opened in 2009 at the University of Peloponnése (c.f. Dimopoulos, 2009), has been inspirational and beneficial whilst also increasing the professionalism of specialists in the Olympic Movement.

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