Olympic Movement = educational movement for young people worldwide. Grew out of modern Olympism with its goal being to help build a better and more peaceful world.
Sport = In itself is generally seen only for its intrinsic benefits – the health benefits associated with getting fit to play sport. And nowadays, it is also seen as a commodity and a form of entertainment.
However, when we bring sport into the Olympic Movement, we get to see the bigger picture of sport – we get to see both the intrinsic and extrinsic values. Sport becomes an educative tool or vehicle, not an end in itself.
Yet, for sport to become a more effective vehicle or tool, sport in the Olympic movement and in the promotion of Olympism is always blended with culture and education, following the ancient Greek philosophy of the balanced development of mankind.
Therefore, the Olympic Movement views sport in this form, as an invaluable means of educating people, cultivating aesthetic and moral values, fostering friendships among young people, and bringing people from different nations closer together.
With the many millions of people involved in some aspect of sport, be it playing, coaching, managing, spectating etc., sport, blended with culture and education, becomes an important social force, and again vehicle, to carry us along the road to building a better and more peaceful world.
Therefore, as laid out in the Olympic Charter (Link to Olympic Charter) – the practice of sport is a human right, and every person must therefore have the possibility of practising sport in accordance with his or her needs.
Now the question can be asked: if sport has such an important role in the Olympic Movement, what kind of role does the Oympic Movement have in Sport? Does the movement act like a Sports Foundation or Federation? Well the short answer to those questions is NO.
Keeping with the idea of sport being a vehicle for the promotion of Olympism, and using a vehicle as an illustration, think for a moment about your car if you own one – by simply driving your car, are you considered a car manufacturer or designer? Obviously not! And the same point can be made regarding sport. By using sport as a driving force or educative vehicle, it doesn’t make the Olympic Movement a sports organiser or federation. Therefore, the role of the Olympic Movement is simply to promote the development of the physical and moral qualities that are the basis of sport, and of course to instil the values of Olympism into all sport.
So, of what value could this be to the movement? Well to carry on with the vehicle illustration, just as a car runs better if you consult the manual and keep the oil and water topped up , and of course the right petrol in, so sport becomes a more effective vehicle and educative tool when the physical and moral qualities are kept in good working order and strengthened. So the stronger the sport is, the better vehicle they become as a social and educational force in the community and in the promotion of Olympism.
To do this, the Olympic Movement works closely with International Sports Federations, who, again in keeping online with the above illustration, become like the garages or pitstops for individual sports. But just as garages work independently while still maintaining certain standards set out by the Motor Trade Association, so the International Federations while administering their sports independently, must ensure that their statues, practices and activities conform with the Olympic Charter. And in doing so they also help to spread Olympism and promote Olympic Education.
So to sum up Sport and the Olympic Movement, while maintaining independence and autonomy from each other, when linked together can become an important social and educational force for promoting the goal of Olympism, which is to build a better and more peaceful world.
How does Olympism fit into all of this?
Again, in using a literal vehicle or automobile as an illustration, Pierre de Coubertin was frustrated that people concentrated too much on the vehicle itself, (ie: Wow, that’s a 1957 Convertible Pontiac) instead of thinking about how this vehicle came about and what the purpose of its journey is, and also the significance of the destination – what is the point of those people being in that vehicle, where is it taking them?
So applied to the modern Olympic games in and most instances to sport itself (and not belittling them in any way), it can be frustrating for the Olympic Movement to have people look only at the intrinsic and aesthetic values of the Games or a particular sport, instead of looking at how they came about, why they were initially organised and what is purpose of them today – what is the ultimate goal of the Olympic Movement.
Yves Boulongne gives us a hint as to what the goal of the Olympic Movement is not when he said:
Olympism is a philosophy of life exalting and combing in a balanced whole of the qualities of body, will and mind. To reduce Olympism to mere events of the body, to see Olympism as nothing more than the records and exploits of the Olympic Games is to understand nothing of the philosophy of Olympism.
Going back to the original quote by Boulongne, the reason why Pierre de Coubertin restored the Olympic games was to enoble sport. So the challenge is set before us – how do we educate people about the extrinsic values of sport and in turn work towards the goal of building a better and more peaceful world?