Examination of Athletic Best Performance Trends in Track and Field Over One Hundred Years’ History

Authors: Ran Wei and Yuanlong Liu

Corresponding author:
Ran Wei, MA
Western Michigan University
1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, MI, USA 49008-5426
Campus Site: Room 4024-4 Student Recreation Center
Phone: (269) 267-2493
Fax: (269) 387-2704
Email: ran.wei@wmich.edu

Ran Wei is a doctoral student in the PhD-EHD program of College of Education and Human Development. Her emphasis area is Sport Management in the department of Human Performance and Health Education. Dr. Yuanlong Liu is a professor and chair of the department of Human Performance and Health Education. His specialty is evaluation and measurement in Kinesiology. He serves as editor and associate editor among multiple journals.

Examination of Athletic Best Performance Trends in Track and Field Over One Hundred Years’ History


It is always interesting to predict future performance and explore human limits. In this study, 24 events (running, jumping, and throwing) were studied from men’s and women’s track and field events. The best yearly performance data and world record data since 1900 to 2018 were collected. All the events were analyzed by applying longitudinal analysis with scatterplots. The findings revealed that it is encouraging to expect the new world record in men’s shorter running events and women’s longer running events. However, the waiting time for the new world records in men’s longer running events, women’s shorter running events, and both their field events will be much longer as going into the 21st century. For the overall track and field events, both men’s and women’s athletic performance may have reached the asymptotic level. Women’s athletic performances will not surpass men’s performances in track and field in the near future. To explore track and field performance trends and predict future world records, research of new methods and new prediction models are needed when the asymptotic level has been reached.

2020-06-02T13:45:56-05:00September 5th, 2019|Commentary, Sports History|Comments Off on Examination of Athletic Best Performance Trends in Track and Field Over One Hundred Years’ History

Contextualization of a Shifting Perspective Regarding the Steroid Era

Authors: Patrick Antinori and Rodney J. Blackman

Corresponding Author:
Dr. Rodney Blackman
United States Sports Academy
One Academy Drive
Daphne, Alabama 36526
Phone: 251-626-3303
Email: rblackman@ussa.edu

Patrick Antinori is Director of Global Sales for Phoenix Bats, a hardwood bat supplier for Major League Baseball. He is also a graduate student at the United States Sports Academy.

Rodney J. Blackman, is an Associate Professor and Chair of Recreation Management at the United States Sports Academy

To a young fan whose innocence is preserved, baseball can represent the very best of life. Adult fans support this in a variety of ways. But, the history of the game has a less-than-noble side. The steroid era in baseball has been widely considered as a blemish on the visage of baseball, leaving the people involved and the game itself open to disdain and disparagement. Until recently, the writers who elect people to the Baseball Hall of Fame have echoed these sentiments by holding to a very narrow view of that era, and the effects thereof can be likened to staring at their shoes. But a certain shift is appearing regarding perceptions about the steroid era – a view given to greater forbearance, in the larger context of the history of baseball, and how best to preserve the integrity of the game.

Over time, there has also been a greater societal demand for full disclosure. This has created a wealth of information about the steroid era in relation to the history of the game of baseball, including chronicled accounts of what people did and what they said, and did not say, at the time. However, ascertaining culpability was not the purpose of this study. Rather, the purpose of this qualitative study was to explore and describe historical accounts of pre-steroid and steroid era behaviors and their after-effects, as well as to contextualize these choices and consequences that shaped the steroid era within the historical past and coming future of the game. Moreover, the data effectively also yielded the presence and contextualization of a discernible shift in perspective regarding the steroid era.

2017-07-20T16:04:02-05:00July 25th, 2017|Commentary, Contemporary Sports Issues, Sport Education, Sports History|Comments Off on Contextualization of a Shifting Perspective Regarding the Steroid Era

The Interrelated Back Stories of Kenny Washington Reintegrating the NFL in 1946 and Jackie Robinson Integrating Major League Baseball in 1947

Submitted by Raymond Stefani, Ph.D*

1* California State University, Long Beach, USA

Dr. Raymond Stefani is an emeritus professor of Engineering at the California State University, Long Beach, USA. His more than 120 sports publications are evenly divided between individual and team sports. He seeks a fundamental understanding of the physics, physiology, causes of gender differential performance, rates of improvement, effect of historical events and effects of performance enhancing drugs related to Olympic gold medal performances in athletics (track and field), swimming, rowing and speed skating. He has analyzed Olympic home nation medal advantage He developed a least squared team rating system applied to predicting the outcome of more than 20,000 games of American football, basketball, European soccer, Australian Rules football, and Super Rugby. Home advantage has been studied in those contexts. He has contributed to the understanding of the types and application of 100 international sport rating systems (both for individuals and teams) and their ability to predict the outcome of world and Olympic championship events. He contributed to the millennium edition of the New York Times. He has presented his work to 10 organizations conducting conferences in eight nations on three continents. Dr. Stefani invites collaboration with colleagues from around the world.


In 1946, Kenny Washington reintegrated the National Football League (NFL).  In 1947, Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball. Those two iconic events initiated an era of opportunity for black athletes wanting to compete at the highest level in professional sports. In fact, both events terminated two interrelated (and largely forgotten) back stories from 1936 to 1947, covered in detail in this paper.  The back stories include two second-tier pro football teams, a narrow escape from Honolulu before Pearl Harbor by Robinson and the creation of a rival league to the NFL. Had it not been for the cancellation of the 1940 Olympics, Robinson might now be known as an Olympic medalist in the long jump. Had it not been for an ankle injury in 1944, Robinson might now be known as a former professional football player. Had it not been for Kenny Washington’s success in pro football from 1940 to 1945, Robinson might not be known for breaking the color barrier in major league baseball. These back stories form a fascinating, inter-twined chain of events upon which depended the signing of Washington and Robinson.

Key words:  integration, pro football, major league baseball, NFL, Kenny Washington, Jackie Robinson


2015-04-16T16:07:41-05:00March 17th, 2015|Sports Coaching, Sports History, Sports Management|Comments Off on The Interrelated Back Stories of Kenny Washington Reintegrating the NFL in 1946 and Jackie Robinson Integrating Major League Baseball in 1947

Sport in Turkey in the Pre-Islamic Period

This paper is a descriptive historical analysis of sport in Turkey from the earliest available records to the present. The development of sport in Turkey may be thought of as occurring in three periods: the pre-Islamic, the Islamic, and post-Islamic Republican periods. Evidence from the pre-Islamic period suggests that Turkey’s athletic culture was immensely rich, with games and related physical activities having an essential role and in many respects providing a way of life. In an environment in which the strongest and fittest were likeliest to survive, martial forms of games and physical activities were widely practiced by men and women, for instance archery, horsemanship, wrestling, and cirit (a javelin chase also known as jerid or jereed). In the relatively relaxed social climate of the pre-Islamic period, Turkish people were free to pursue these activities and express themselves through athletic culture.

Sport in Turkey in the Pre-Islamic Period

Athletic culture in Turkey during the pre-Islamic period involved at least three main outlets for physical competition: archery, cirit, and wrestling. Ample evidence exists that archery was among the most common sports in the pre-Islamic Turkish culture, practiced and performed by rich and poor alike. Survival, after all, depended heavily on skilled marksmanship. Marksmanship also made for ready entertainment, and the best archers were honored and rewarded. According to Celebi (1987), Turks were like other Central Asian peoples in their use of  short bows rather than the Western Europeans’ favored longbow. Lewis (1971) attributes the difference to the fact that, while Europe’s medieval archers traveled on foot, the Turks formed light cavalries, which, being on horseback, would have found the longbow unwieldy (p. 203). Turks’ bows and arrows were made of metal, bone, or wood; the material reflected the archer’s status in society (Celebi, 1987). Technical perfection was expected in making both arrow and bow, and the weapons were subjected to thorough testing before use (Celebi, 1987). Arrows were invested with certain symbolic powers in addition to their use as weapons. For example, a young Turkish man about to marry would shoot up an arrow to learn where his marriage tent should be placed (i.e., at the point where the arrow returned to earth) (Lewis, 1978).

Women in pre-Islamic Turkish culture enjoyed extensive freedoms; they did not “sit quietly in their tents all the time” (Adivar, 1930). Shoulder to shoulder with men, they hunted and fought. And they competed with men in archery contests. The pre-Islamic Turkish epic Book of Dede Korkut (translated by Geoffrey Lewis) recounts how Lady Burla, a Khakan’s wife, helped rescue her son from an enemy by using arrow and sword herself to dispatch the threat (Lewis, 1978). The pages of the Dede Korkut also make clear the popularity of wrestling among pre-Islamic Turks. Athletes and others approached the sport with respect; it was honored by heroes and heroines and it figured in many aspects of life (see the offset quotation from Dede Korkut, below, describing the prenuptial wrestling match between Prince Beyrek and his intended’s housekeeper). Finally, the sport of cirit (or jerid or jereed), a horseback javelin chase, was very popular among the nomadic Turks. Their diet consisting largely of game, they were dependent on hunting. The cirit javelin, made of wood or metal, was designed to kill large animals; during war it could also be used for close fighting. To use the javelin well required a strong arm and a practiced skill (Celebi, 1987). Using it in a game was very dangerous, involving speeding horses and attempts both to hit an opponent with the javelin and catch thrown javelins. Cirit was one of the culture’s most dangerous pursuits, and it was not uncommon for players to die on the field.

Turkish sport during the Islamic period was influenced significantly by the cultural habits and moral codes of Islam practiced in the Middle East (Arabia and Persia). These allowed only men to pursue certain athletic leisure activities, and in general in this period, athletic pursuits–sports–became a privilege of the rich and politically powerful. Again, archery, riding, wrestling, and cirit were the most popular events. It is during this period that athletics began to be institutionalized; a few primitive sports clubs became established. In the 19th century, European diplomats were largely responsible for introducing modern competitive sports to Turkey. The progress of sport in Turkey in the modern era has been problematic, influenced by national political, economic, and social challenges. This is, however, typical of developing countries. There has been very little scholarly research aimed at identifying problems in the development of sports in Turkey. Minimal data about lifelong physical fitness for the masses (i.e., “sport for all” programs) has been established. This article will focus on understanding whether Middle Eastern culture has worked to impede the development of Turkish sports culture by, for example, preventing Turkish women from participating in the activities of athletics and sports.

For thousands of years, games and various types of athletic activities have been significant in the lives of the Turkish people (a people originating in Central Asia). In ancient times Turkish boys were not granted their public names until they had distinguished themselves in athletics. Indeed, during the pre-Islamic era, certain athletic activities were considered expressions of the Turkish religion, art, or love. In the oldest inscriptions on Turkish monuments in Outer Mongolia and Siberia (dating to roughly the eighth century B.C.), athletic skills are described as “first-rate” (Lewis, 1978); the gender of the athlete matters not. Exemplifying Turkey’s continuous tradition of sports, the annual Kirkpinar wrestling tournament in Edirne is 650 years old, predating tennis at Wimbledon by approximately 500 years. Turkish wrestlers’ many successes in the modern Olympic Games (until the 1968 Mexico City Games) were no coincidence, but were instead the extension of Turkey’s history and culture. Another example of centuries-old Turkish sporting tradition are the cirit festivals in Erzurum.

A number of literary works suggest the rich heritage of sports in Turkey. The Book of Dede Korkut, for instance, tells a story giving insight into the role of athletics in Turkish cultural background. The story concerns a Turkish girl who is a housekeeper for a popular Turkish princess, Chichek. A prince attracted to the princess must contend with the princess’s housekeeper to win an opportunity to meet the princess. The housekeeper presents him a challenge, as Lewis (1987) translates it:

Where are you from, young man? From the inner Oghuz, said Beyrek (the prince) . . . . I am he they call Bamsi Beyrek, son of Prince Bay Bure. And what is your business here? I am told, replied Beyrek, that Prince Bay Bican has a daughter, and I have come to see her. The lady Chichek is not the sort of person to show herself to you, said she, but I am her serving-woman. Come let us ride out together. We shall shoot our bows and race our horses and wrestle. If you beat me in these three, you will beat her, too. To horse! They both mounted and rode out. They spurred their horses and Beyrek’s horse passed the girl’s. They shot their bows and Beyrek’s arrow split the girl’s arrow. She said, well, young man, nobody has ever passed my horse or split my arrow. Come now, let us wrestle. At once they dismounted and grappled; they stood as wrestlers do and grasped each other. Beyrek picked the girl up and tried to throw her, and then she picked him up and tried to throw him. Beyrek was astonished and said, If I am beaten, I will be humiliated . . . . He made a supreme effort, grappled with the girl and seized her breast  . . . and threw her on her back.

The story illustrates how much a part of the lives of Turkish people athletics have been. And yet, despite centuries of pursuit of a range of games and athletic pastimes, the sporting legacy of this society has remained basically unwritten. Kurthan Fisek attempted to make up the omission in his 1962 book in Turkish, Devlet Politikas Ve Toplumsal Yapyla IIiskileri Acsndan Spor Yonetimi: Dunyada-Turkiye’de [The Administration of Sport in Turkey and in the World]. Fisek’s work provides an overview and historical analysis of the development and institutionalization of sports organizations and their management, both in Turkey and worldwide. It is the first and only academic book on Turkish sporting culture. While much is written about sports in Turkey, aside from Fisek’s canonical text, most of it emanates from sports journalism, and most of that is essentially pabulum, consisting of scores and attributions by athletes and coaches relating to individual or team achievements and quests for championships. Fisek’s book emphasizes mainly the emergence of sport and its transition from an individual level to the organized, institutional level.

When reading outside of Fisek, readers on sports tend to be fed a diet of traditional slogans, clichés, and ritualized trivia. Most texts on Turkish sports do not acquaint readers with, or encourage awareness of, larger social issues or the consequences of modern and indigenous sport forms: the ideological underpinnings, power relations, and social, economic, and cultural costs they entail. Many pertinent aspects remain ill-defined, if they are mentioned at all. An unsophisticated, escapist attitude tends to control sports; substantive studies in sport have been very much neglected in Turkey, only recently attracting the interest of a few researchers. It is a neglect that diminishes the traditionally rich sport culture of Turkish society. Study of the culturally significant roles the Turkish people ascribe to athletic activities helps document the nation’s values, spirit, and mentalities, in addition to its times, just as do studies of other cultural enterprises. Turkish academics have yet to adequately examine the significance of various cultural constructs regarding the body as a functioning organism and its influence on personality or character. Too little scrutiny has been focused on the human body’s capacity to serve as an icon communicating present and past social customs and social roles.

On the other hand, too much attention is paid to journalistic evaluations of medal counts in competitive sports, notably the Olympics and world championships. Until recently, journalists have generally reported only the failures and weaknesses of Turkish sports. Turkish wrestling, which led the world until the 1968 Olympic Games, and Turkish soccer, which has rarely been competitive with Europe, are especially criticized. The outcomes of competitions may be newsworthy, but basic inquiry into why these particular outcomes is rarely made. Hence, the traditionally important indigenous games and athletic activities (cirit, archery, wrestling) and their role in the historical development of Turkey have rarely been investigated.

As in nearly all the other developing countries, sports in Turkey in its institutionalized form is not maintaining itself competitively. Despite having a strong sport background, Turkey is ineffective, compared to advanced, primarily Western countries, in international competition, especially in the Olympic Games and world championships. In these arenas, advanced technology and science play a crucial role. As a distance runner for the Turkish national team, I have personally experienced the reality of Turkey’s technological handicap. In major international races I competed in between 1975 and 1982, my Western opponents wore technologically superior running shoes, while I ran in flat-soled shoes. I could afford neither the shoes nor the spikes that were attached to them.

Several factors are negative influences on the advancement of sports in developing nations like Turkey. A number of authors (William Baker, John Andrews, Donald Calhoun, Don Anthony) have linked the problems of third world sports directly to poverty. In order to understand the system of sports within a given society, it is essential to examine predisposing elements and how they interact with the development of sports. Whatever pattern of development exists in a nation, it is important to point out that the system of sports is a product of the society. However, it is highly conceivable that certain factors within a given country might have more influence on the system of sports than others at any given time. For instance, although Turkey has never been colonized, its problems can resemble those of formerly colonized developing countries.

Finally, on a global scale, problems in sports grow from various historical, cultural, religious, political, socioeconomic, and ecological issues that cannot be considered mutually exclusive but must be evaluated as they relate to one another. Sports discussed in Turkey today are those in which Turkish athletes compete internationally and those that are played professionally, such as soccer and basketball. Traditionally important indigenous activities like cirit, archery, wrestling, and polo have rarely been researched or included in journalists’ reports. It is the purpose of this article, therefore, to articulate sports’ development in Turkish society and to identify problems in sports affecting its development over time. It is also the purpose of this study to elaborate on what sports means in Turkey, identifying some of the structures formed by the society for the carrying out of competitive sports and athletic culture. Finally, some of contemporary Turkey’s major problems in the realm of sports will be examined.

Games and other forms of athletic culture have been pastimes of Turks for thousands of years. From a handful of written materials we have learned that the early Turks celebrated success–whether of the hunt, the fight, or pertaining to religion–by dancing and convening games and other physical contests. Ancient inscriptions in Outer Mongolia and Siberia allude to the Turks’ pre-Islamic-era organized religious festivals involving dancing, games, and tests and demonstrations of strength and skill. Religious and civic commemorations and celebrations involving people of every class employed games and athletic activities. For example, weddings, khanship inaugurations, and military victories in the pre-Islamic era were the primary entertainments and were celebrated through sports and athletics (Lewis, 1971). Athletic activity, sports and sportsmanship, were thus related to spiritual beliefs, and they were also part of daily work and customs including the expression of art and love.

Athletic activities are also portrayed in ancient Turkish epics as well as in folk songs and Turkish miniature paintings. The Book of Dede Korkut, for example, with its origins in the period AD 1000-1300, is a famed Turkish epic much given to descriptions of certain games and athletic activities. To the men and women of Turkey this epic ascribes “first-rate” athletic skills, especially in horsemanship, archery, wrestling, polo, and cirit or javelin. These are today considered Turkey’s national sports.

The nomadic Turks of the pre-Islamic period were “patriotic,” brave, practical, and physically active. From the beginning of their history they lived in a world in which wars were virtually constant. This social environment, along with a harsh natural environment, meant that the weak and the old were left to die. As a result, Turks developed athletic skills to help them survive. As in most other ancient societies, athletic activities had military and political dimensions. Several historians have indicated that pre-Islamic Turks were “fit, intrepid hunters, expert horsemen and brave warriors” (Lewis, 1974). Every Turkish man was considered a soldier for life, and a significant amount of attention was paid to military skills. History shows that these characteristics made the Turks far superior, militarily,  to their settled, relatively sedentary neighbors. Quite naturally, then, in the pre-Islamic period martial sports and activities like archery, horsemanship, wrestling, and cirit were more important than other sports. A primary reason for advocating discipline and promoting strength and martial skill was the Khakans’ belief that, for boys, challenging sports and games enhanced not just physical but moral, ethical, and patriotic well-being, as is suggested in the Book of Dede Korkut. Khakans believed that sports instilled courage and loyalty to a boy’s community and to the leader of his nation. As Lewis (1978), explained,

[B]oys were routinely taken for rigorous physical and military training. . . . In about one year in training camps the boys were expert warriors in running, slinging, shooting the bow and throwing [the] javelins . . . and riding . . . After gaining some skill in these activities, the boys were allowed to participate in the hunt, enduring the extremes of heat and cold, to make forced marches day after day, to cross streams without wetting their weapons, to eat very little food, perhaps one meal in two days, to support themselves by foraging, and to stalk and kill the wild animals, such as the lion, the leopard, the wild boar, and the antelope. . . . When not on the hunt the boys continued the regular training in archery, riding, and athletic sports. (pp. 156)

The heroic code ordained that “the boys were not granted their public names until they accomplished something heroically (including athletics)” (Lewis, 1978, p. 156).

Like other nomadic societies (e.g., Tartars, Kazaks, Mongols, Kirghizes), the Turks were “devoted to the cult of horse and were born horsemen” (Celebi, 1987). Gurun (1981) went so far as to credit the Turks with the domestication of the horse. Turkish men indeed could not imagine life without their horses. As the legendary phrase has it, a Turk is born in a hut and dies on horseback on the prairie.  One Turkish soldier left the following message in a cave: “I will die /  If my horse dies / I will survive / If my horse survives” (Celebi,1987).

Turks of the pre-Islamic period saw leisure as an invaluable gift from God to their people. Turks’ fondness for athletic activities and games shaped their culture and made these an important feature of daily life. The ancient Turks of Central Asia recognized play as a primary impulse in both human beings and Tengeri, their sky god. According to their belief, the kainat (universe) was the “play arena of divinity . . . Mother Earth [w]as the play yard of human beings” (And, 1987). Religious forms of dance had an especially revered role in this context. A small, 15th-century Turkish manuscript describes the relationship between the shaman and dance, which involves symbolic explanation of the origins of music and dance. The anonymous author writes that it was during the creation of the world that dance had its spiritual birth, explaining that, “When God created the Universe, divine energy resounded and from that sound arose the tonalities of music, and this gave birth to several forms of dance” (And, 1987). Dance, of course, was accompanied by music, including song. The manuscript’s author goes on to link the movement of the physical body in dance to the spiritual experience of the dance, in such a way that, according to And, “the whole cosmos is a dancing mystery.” A thousand years later, scholars began examining apparent affinities between the shamanistic philosophy reflected in the ancient manuscript and later Islamic mysticism, especially the Sufi dancing recognized as symbolizing the cosmos (And, 1987).

Turkish folk tradition links dancing and lore, and this had an influential role in the development of Turkish athletic culture. To this day, Turkish people entertain and enlighten themselves and others with dances dramatizing their folktales and folk songs. In ancient Turkey, dance was among the most common entertainments, and the men and women who danced were highly skilled performers. Dances performed differed to a degree from region to region. The most popular dances were those that had been influenced by military life. Lewis (1971) calls these dances “mimed battles of fierce exploits, always intense and energetic, with or without weapons, increasing in speed and excitement and often ending with a leap over the flames.” Dancers’ movements might also mimic animal behavior or other natural phenomena. Lewis (1971) observed the following :

The courtship of cranes, birds sacred to the ancient Turks; an eagle approaching its prey; an encounter between a dignified lion and a ferocious hyena; a clownish camel, danced by two men in the animal’s skin. Some of the dances were mimics or imitations of natural features, like flowing water or swaying poplar trees; others mimed daily acts of home and village life, like bread making, weaving or hair washing; these were interspersed with a promenading dance among the audience and always ended with a lively dance of thanksgiving.


Adivar, H. E. (1930). Turkey faces west: A Turkish view of recent changes and their origin. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

And, M. (1987). Culture, performance and communication in Turkey. Performance in Culture, 4. Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa.

Andrews, J. C. (1982). Problems of physical education in the third world. FIEP Bulletin, 52(1), p. 7.

Andrews, J. C. (1985). Physical education, sport and recreation in developing countries. FIEP Bulletin, 55(1), pp. 5-15.

Baker, B. G. (1913). The Passing of the Turkish Empire in Europe. London: Seeley, Service.

Baker, J. (1877). Turkey. New York: Holt.

Calhoun, D. B. (1986). Sport culture and personality (pp. 157-161). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Celebi, Evliya. (1987). Evliya Celebi Seyahatnamesi. Ankara: Ucdal Nesriyat.

Fisek, K. (1963). Devlet politikasi ve toplumsal yapiyla iliskileri acisindan; Spor yonetimi-dunyada ve Turkiyede. Andara, Turkey: ‘Siyasal Bilgiler Facultesi.

Gurun, K. (1981). Turkler ve Turk devletleri. Birinci Cilt.: I, II, III. Istanbul: Karacan Yayinlari.

Lewis, G. (1974). Modern Turkey. New York: Praeger.

Lewis, G. L. (1978). The Book of Dede Korkut. New York: Praeger.

Lewis, R. (1971). Everyday life in Ottoman Turkey. London: Batsford.

Author Note

Ergun Yurdadon,Department of Recreation Management, United States Sports Academy.

2013-11-26T20:50:26-06:00February 22nd, 2008|Sports History|Comments Off on Sport in Turkey in the Pre-Islamic Period

Special Edition: Refuting IOC’s Plan to End Modern Pentathlon Competition

The recent decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to drop the modern pentathlon from the Olympic Games has prompted Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, president of the United States Sports Academy, and the editors of The Sport Journal to publish a special edition bringing attention to this grave matter. We join the call that has gone out from various quarters to retain the modern pentathlon. It is a vital component of the Olympic Games and an important historic tradition. The special edition features the opinions of several IOC members, reproduced from four sources.

The first source is an abridged version of a letter from Klaus Schormann, president of the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), to IOC President Jacques Rogge:

Monaco, 5 November 2002

According to our discussion during our last meeting in Lausanne [Switzerland], the UIPM is sending a summary of its arguments and response to the Program Commission report which it feels appropriate to be considered for the sport of modern pentathlon to remain in the Olympic program. These arguments, which cover a larger spectrum than those developed by the Program Commission, should be given to the IOC executive board prior to their last meeting in November, and to the IOC members in case the matter would be voted during the session in Mexico.

I. Answer to the arguments of the Program Commission

Lack of global participation by nations and individual athletes
Ninety-four nations from five continents are now affiliated with the UIPM (more are coming, as they are in establishment procedure), while the Olympic Charter requires 75 nations in four continents. The sport meets the criteria of the Olympic Charter. We want to remind that Pierre de Coubertin founded the sport in 1912 from scratch, on the model of the ancient pentathlon, the symbolic and complete sport of the Ancient Games, which means that this sport has never stopped growing since its creation.

—Significant expense of practicing the sport, with resulting difficulties in major development
Modern pentathlon is not more significantly expensive than most of the other Olympic sports or than those willing to enter the Olympic program. The change of its format to the one-day in 1992 and the new shooting system (air pistols instead of guns) have reduced the costs for organizing and training. Facilities already used by other sports are also for modern pentathlon, inside and outside of Olympic Games, for competing, training, and studying. The new compactness of venues in many cities gives new possibilities for modern pentathlon. The reduction of the costs for sport equipment (including horse riding) brings new possibilities. It is to be noted that pentathletes do not need to have a horse of their own, are not charged for that in competitions, and that the use of local horses does not require any guarantee.

—High operational complexity
Experience with organization of UIPM events on all continents and in the previous Olympic Games shows that all organizers were able easily to offer facilities for the five disciplines of modern pentathlon (shooting, fencing, swimming, riding, running) within walking distance. It is to be noted that no specific venue is required for the modern pentathlon, and that UIPM has developed a policy of polyvalent international technical officials. Modern pentathlon helps to a more efficient use of venues used at Games time. The official report of the XXVII Olympiad made by SOCOG makes a clear statement on this.

Relatively low broadcast and press coverage
The relatively low broadcast stated by the Program Commission does not fit the statistics established by the UIPM, which can easily be checked. . . . All major UIPM events on all five continents were covered by international TV during the last seven years. Due to its TV coverage, the UIPM has developed a successful marketing program . . . which is in very good standing in comparison with other Olympic sports.

II. Arguments which should be taken into consideration by the IOC to keep modern pentathlon in the Olympic program

Modern pentathlon is the only sport that has ever been created in its entirety by Pierre de Coubertin and the IOC, as the Ancient sports were created by the Ancient Greeks, and therefore [has] a symbolic value within the Olympic Games.
It was especially designed on the model of the ancient pentathlon in order to show all possible skills developed, through five sport events, in one single athlete, and not for a massive number of participants. It is important for the sake of the Olympic tradition.

—Modern pentathlon, from the skills it develops, has an educational value.
[It is] a complete sport: On the physical side, swimming, running are the basic disciplines; on the mental side, shooting requires stress control and a precise technique; on the intellectual side, fencing requires adaptability and intelligence; riding an unknown horse requires a mix of adaptability, self-control, and courage.

—Modern pentathlon has an entertainment function at the Olympic Games.
Since the Atlanta Olympic Games and the introduction of the one-day format, the interest of spectators at Games time has grown dramatically, which can be easily shown by statistics on the number of spectators at the Sydney Games (full venue and 15,000 spectators per session) and by an independent survey published in the Olympic Review.

An Olympic sport with reasonable number of athletes and with a high representation of NOCs.
Only 32 women and 32 men, a total of 64 athletes (in fact around 0.5% of the total athletes number), competing for only two days (six medals), which means that modern pentathlon, as one of the 28 sports of the Olympic program, has a very limited impact on the overall number of athletes in the Games. Remarks: The average number of athletes for the other sports is (10500 – 64) /27 = 386/ At the same time, modern pentathlon gives to many NOCs the possibility to take part in the Olympic Games. In Sydney 48 pentathletes competed while 24 NOCs were represented. This means 50% of the quota was dedicated to NOCs’ representation, which is the highest value of all Olympic sports.

A drug-free sport.
Since the one-day format has been created and due to the permanent efforts of the UIPM, modern pentathlon has become a drug-free sport. The one-day format has discouraged prohibited behaviors, as there is no interest in using drugs for shooting when fencing comes right after it. Anabolic substances are not useful in a sport that does not place the success of the winner only on his physical skills, but in his overall physical and intellectual harmony.

—UIPM, a flexible organization.
In addition to the changes in the modern pentathlon’s format, the UIPM has created an ad hoc commission looking at the optimal evolution of the sport for the future. The purpose is to keep to symbolic construction of modern pentathlon in placing its complete skills first, but looking, at the same time, at its events in order to fit with the evolution of sport practice in general. This commission already collaborates with the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee and intends to do the same with the other international federations and the IOC.

—Modern pentathlon is a symbolic sport for the Olympic Movement.
Modern pentathlon is a true representation of the Olympic Movement. The five Olympic rings are reflected in modern pentathlon’s five events and participation from all five continents. It is a true sport of the Olympic Games, created by the founder of the Modern Games, Pierre de Coubertin, and reflecting the ideals embodied by the Olympic Movement. It has to remain an indefatigable part of it.

The concept and the philosophy of the pentathlon are 2,710 years old, as described by Aristotle: “The most perfect sportsmen are the pentathletes, because in their bodies strength and speed are combined in beautiful harmony.” Created by the Greeks and renovated by the founder of the [Modern] Games, it shows the symbolic complete athlete in his body, will, and mind as stated and described in Fundamental Principle 2 of the Olympic Charter. Let’s keep this part of the soul of the Olympics, let’s keep it on the field of play, let’s see it on the stadium, and not only in the Olympic Museum in the future!

Table 1

The 28 Sports of the Olympic Program, Participating NOCs, and Disqualification Quotas

  Total Participating NOCs Total Disqualification Quotas Percentage
AcquaticsDiving 42 158 27%
AcquaticsSwimming 150 983 15%
AcquaticsSynchro Swim 24 104 23%
AcquaticsWater Polo 13 234   6%
Archery 46 128 36%
Athletics 194 2468 8%
Badminton 28 172 16%
Baseball 8 192 4%
Basketball 18 288 6%
Boxing 75 312 24%
CanoeSlalom 21 83 25%
CanoeSprint 43 265 16%
CyclingMountain Bike 33 80 41%
CyclingRoad 44 216 20%
CyclingTrack 38 190 20%
Equestrian 37 204 18%
Fencing 40 200 20%
Football 20 432 5%
GymnasticsArtistic 43 195 22%
GymnasticsRythmic 20 84 24%
Handball 19 329 6%
Hockey 15 352 4%
Judo 90 400 23%
Modern Pentathlon 24 48 50%
Rowing 51 549 9%
Sailing 69 404 17%
Shooting 103 411 25%
Softball 8 120 7%
Taekwondo 51 103 50%
Table Tennis 48 172 28%
Tennis 52 192 27%
Triathlon 34 100 34%
VolleyballBeach 23 96 24%
Volleyball 17 288 6%
Weightlifting 76 264 29%
Wrestling 55 319 17%

The second source reproduced in this special edition is HSH Prince Albert Monaco’s address to the IOC in Switzerland on behalf of the cause of the modern pentathlon:

HSH Prince Albert reaffirms Modern Pentathlon as soul of Olympic Movement, to be maintained for the sake of olympic tradition & values

I’m here not only because I am the honorary president of the UIPM, nor because Monaco is host to the headquarters of the UIPM. I’m here above all as an IOC member who is fearful that some very important part of the values and the philosophy of the Olympic Movement handed down to us by Baron Pierre de Coubertin might be lost forever if modem pentathlon should disappear from the program. The cultural dimension of this sport, its ancient roots and the educational value of its different components, are an important legacy for the IOC, for the Olympic Movement. This dimension is more important than the sport itself; the consequences of its demise larger than any one of us in this room.

Some people will argue that tradition and values are not the only elements that should guide us. If you look around you, watch TV, or read a newspaper article, you will find quite a few people saying the opposite: that a society has lost points of reference, that values have diminished. Why not continue to provide our youth with the kind of values and symbol that this sport possesses, and that they obviously are looking for? Why challenge a sport that celebrates and showcases the versatile, complete athlete? According to the latest figures from the Sydney Olympic Games, more people than ever seem interested in watching athletes test their abilities in combined events.

Is it right to deny the development of a sport that is growing in popularity and has sustained youth programs? There is a quotation from a young Cuban athlete in your brochure, “I want to compete in modem pentathlon at the Beijing Olympic Games.” Is it right to deny Jose Fernandez and his friends the opportunity to realize his dreams in an existing Olympic sport?

Having said all this, we are not stifled in tradition, we are not dinosaurs, we are willing to be open to change, if it is for the better.

The American philosopher and author Tom Wolfe once wrote, in his book The Search for Excellence,  “We must learn to accept change, as much as we hated to in the past.” I’m sure he meant changes in our society, changes in behavior, changes in economics, etc., not changes in our values.

The values of education and culture, and understanding through sport, are everlasting and something we in the Olympic Movement should hold sacred.

The third source reproduced in the special edition is a further communication written by Klaus Schormann, UIPM president:

I am just back in my home after a lot of traveling. . . . In Busan during the Asian Games (modern pentathlon was included, with the whole competition-program: individual women/men and relay women/men and team-medal. I could speak with a lot of IOC members, NOC presidents, and media people. As you can see [Table 2], my schedule for the next weeks is very busy; therefore, I think we should meet in Colorado Springs at the GAISF meeting (20 to 24.11.2002). I send you some documents about the “IOC Program Commission” and our actions now, for your information. UIPM needs from all institutions of international-sport-scene support: Public statements . . . for modern pentathlon are needed.

Table 2

UIPM President Klaus Schormann’s Schedule, September to December 2002

06. 08.09.2002 Biathle World Championships Cagliari ITA
09. 10.09. Executive Board UIPM Cagliari ITA
11.09. working-meeting NOC-Germany
– only Presidents –
Frankfurt/M GER
12.09. meeting DOG-Darmstadt Darmstadt GER
13.09. Freiburger Kreis SEMINAR
– Clubs / Federations –
statement DSB President M.v. RichtMofen
Darmstadt GER
14.09. meeting with business-people Stuttgart GER
18. 21.09. meetings in Beijing-BOCOG
– Olympic Games 2008
meetings with IOC Members
Beijing CHN
23. 30.09. Junior World Championships
and meetings with IOC Members
Sydney AUS
04.10. meeting with IOC President Rogge Lausanne SUI
08. 15.10. Asian Games in Busan
and meetings with IOC Members
Busan KOR
17.10. Council LSB Hessen
– Federations
Frankfurt/M GER
18. 20.10. 40th anniversary MP Bavaria
– Gala and competition –
Munich GER
24. 27.10. Pan American Championships
– Qualification Pan American Games 2003 –
Rio de Janeiro BRA
31.10. meeting in Rome WCH-2003-Pesaro Rome ITA
02. 03.11. General Assembly NOC Germany NUrnberg GER
08. 09.11. General Assembly MP-Germany/DVMF Darmstadt GER
15.11. 100th anniversary German Tennis Fedr Berlin Berlin GER
21. 24.11. GAISF General Assembly
ASOIF Extraordinary GS go 11 USA
Colorado Springs USA
26. 29.11. IOC-EB and Extraordinary Session Mexico-City MEX
04. 07.12. DSB-Congress and General Assembly Bonn GER
07. 15.12. EB-UIPM and General Assembly UIPM Cairo EGY

The fourth source reproduced in the special edition is an abridged version of a UIPM press release dated 8 October 2002:

UIPM Delegation Visits IOC Regarding the Olympic Program; HSH Prince Albert Reaffirms Modern Pentathlon as the Soul of the Olympic Movement, to be Maintained for the Sake of Olympic Tradition and Values; International Pierre De Coubertin Committee and DeCoubertin’s Family Call for Pentathlon’s Respect and Promotion

On 4 October, a UIPM delegation composed of President Klaus Schormann, Honorary President HSH Prince Albert of Monaco, First Vice President Juan Antonio Samaranch, and Secretary General Joel Bouzou was welcomed at the IOC headquarters by IOC President Jacques Rogge, accompanied by Sport Director Gilbert Felli and his new assistant, Olivier Lenglet.

The purpose of the meeting was to answer to the Program Commission’s recommendation to the IOC executive board and to present additional arguments to be considered by the IOC executive board before their final decision during their meeting in Mexico City, 26 and 27 November.

After the opening by IOC President Rogge, UIPM President Klaus Schormann referred to the letter sent to the IOC that answered the points raised by the technical report of the Program Commission. [As Schormann noted,] “We now have more than 95 countries in the five continents. . . . De Coubertin started the sport from scratch in 1912, and the media coverage of our events has dramatically increased since the adoption of the one-day format. Our sport is only using existing venues during the Games and therefore is not expensive, as stated in the report. Equally, compact venues in modern cities allow more and more pentathletes to practice the sport and combine it with studies.

President Schormann also mentioned the surveys made during the last Olympic Games by an independent observer, Prof. Dr. Mfiller from the research group of the Gutenberg University in Mainz, and by SOCOG, which both support the UIPM counter-arguments. Dr Rogge confirmed that he took into account the point made by President Schormann concerning the flexibility of UIPM in terms of the sports evolution.

UIPM Secretary General Bouzou recalled that modem pentathlon does not need any specific venue for the Games; that most modem cities have multisport complexes adapted to the organization of modem pentathlon; that nine modem pentathlon major competitions are seen on international TV in the five continents; that, as stated by SOCOG (in a post-Games report), “[T]he quality of competition and sports presentation, combined with the most comprehensive television coverage ever of modem pentathlon in Olympic Games history, ensured first-class viewing for live spectators and global television audiences.” He also acknowledged the fact that modem pentathlon is not, and will never be, practiced by millions of athletes throughout the world. However, it was never designed for this by the founder of the Games, Pierre de Coubertin, but to be used as a living symbol of all values within a single sport. This was the reason why exceptional personalities like General Patton or Chevalier Raoul Mollet chose this sport in their respective athletic times.

UIPM Vice President Samaranch reminded that 15,000 spectators attended each of the two days of modem pentathlon at the Sydney Olympic Games, in sold-out venues, and that there are only 64 athletes competing in modem pentathlon, which represents only 0.5% of the overall number, and, therefore, that taking the sport out of the program would not affect the reality in terms of cost.

IOC President Rogge, following the presentation of all the arguments, informed the UIPM delegation that he would ensure they would all be duly reported on to the IOC executive board.

Professor Dr. Norbert Muller, president of the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee, wrote a letter to the IOC president saying that he had been “informed with great regrets about the proposal of the program commission,” adding that, “this sport represents the real legacy of Pierre de Coubertin, which he elaborated personally when he wanted to showcase the Perfect Olympic Man or Woman.” [Muller] transmitted an appeal from the committee, saying, “[T]he personal legacy of Pierre de Coubertin should be respected and modem pentathlon permanently included.”

Mr. Geoffroy de Navacelle de Coubertin, the great-nephew of Pierre de Coubertin, also wrote to the IOC president, saying, “Let me tell you my astonishment and my emotion. I have always decided not to interfere with the IOC business. I am simply concerned in making sure that the achievements and the philosophy of Pierre de Coubertin will be respected. This sport is the most symbolic one in showing the perfect athlete. Should you not promote and support it in order to make it grow, instead of only promoting ‘specialists’ which media like so much?” De Coubertin had contacted Schormann . . . in order to create a permanent Pierre de Coubertin Commission within UIPM, that he would lead, the role of which will be to promote the philosophy of the founder “on the ground,” particularly through modem pentathlon events, in close cooperation with the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee, throughout the entire world. The Pierre de Coubertin Commission was established 1 October 2002, comprising the following members: de Coubertin, Schormann, Muller, Bouzou, and modern pentathlon Olympic champions Dr. Stephanie Cook [of Great Britain] and Janus Peciak [of Poland].

Author’s Note:

Correspondence regarding this articLEwhould go to:

Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM)
Tel. +377,9777 8555 Fax.+377 9777 8550
E-mail: pentathlon@monaco.mc
For more on Pentathlon, visit the website: http://www.pentathlon.org
08.10.2002/ JB



2016-10-12T11:49:38-05:00February 15th, 2008|Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports History, Sports Management|Comments Off on Special Edition: Refuting IOC’s Plan to End Modern Pentathlon Competition
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