The First Olympics
The Olympic Games, as we all know it, is an international sporting event wherein athletes from different nations congregate in order to compete for awards, in thirty five sports and other four hundred events, that will not only represent their individual skills and talents in their chosen sports, but will also be a source of pride for their country. Perhaps, in the latest Olympic Games held in Beijing last year, Michael Phelps was one of the most prominent figures marking the history of the 2008 Beijing Olympics winning eight gold medals under the sport of swimming, giving back pride and honor to the United States. (Beijing 2008, 2008) However, the U.S. only garnered the second place in the Overall Medal Standings, giving way to the triumph of China with accumulated gold medals totaling to fifty one. (Beijing 2008, 2008b)
The Beijing Olympics, and the previous games held in other countries preceding 2008, has surely been one of the events that people have looked forward to around the world. This means that the Olympics is a way to establish shared experiences for people from various nations allowing a time to be in agreement in terms of the accomplishment of set national goals and objectives. As the goal and purpose of the Olympic Games state, the sporting event is a means for the people to get together and unite in celebration of peace and oneness. This goal and purpose is said to be aligned with the institution’s valuing of morality under the context of universalism. (The Olympic Games, 2009)
Although the Olympic Games, as an institution, is an icon of peace and solidarity among nations, people do not realize the vast difference between the previous structure of the Olympics, particularly during the ancient times, as compared with its projection at present time. The film, “The First Olympics,” sets contrast between the modern Olympic Games and the beginnings of the Olympics during the ancient times. The first Olympics was said to have taken place in 776 BC. Since then, the Olympics were held every four years in different regions or areas in Greece, as it is at present in various countries carefully selected to cater to the massive international event. Perhaps this is one of the most observable and practical similarities between the ancient and modern Olympics. Another similarity between the ancient and modern type of Olympics is that both are structured to foster competition with games or sports that were structured in order for athletes to display their best skills and talents for the purpose of winning. Moreover, the winners for each game are being provided with awards.
Perhaps the most significant similarity between ancient and modern Olympics was how the mission of uniting cities or nations was retained throughout the years. In ancient times, the Olympic Games were held in order to portray the desirable relations between the cities in Greece; while at present time, the Olympic Games are being held in order to facilitate the unity of nations around the globe. This means that although there are wide variations between the ancient and modern Olympics, the true essence of the Olympic Games and the Olympic spirit which calls for concord and harmony was preserved.
Although the concept of competition, the duration of time within which the Olympic Games were held, and the essence of the Olympics were maintained all throughout the years until today, the major differences between ancient and modern Olympics still establishes why both forms of the Olympic Games are primarily different from the other. First, the awards being given to winning athletes during the ancient times were olive tree wreaths while at present time, medals and cash incentives are being provided to them. Second, the sporting events greatly differ from the ancient Olympic Games to the modern sporting events. Some sporting events included in the ancient Olympic Games include primitive sports such as wrestling. Moreover, the sporting events lacked rules and guidelines that would structure how the games are played. For instance, there were now rules or guidelines restricting the possible risks or threats in wrestling matches. The game only ended when one concedes to the other. Other games during the ancient times include the Pentathlon, running, discus throw, wrestling, boxing, the combination between wresting and boxing which is called the Pankration, and equestrian events. (The Olympic Games, 2009b) Third, the ancient Olympics were greatly attributed to religion or mythology, wherein the origins of sporting events were related to stories about mythological characters. In addition, part of the reasons behind the Olympic Games was the people’s desire to worship and honor the gods, particularly Zeus.
The most interesting parts about the ancient Olympics as represented in the film were the ways by which the Olympic Games were held. There were many laws concerning the Olympics, from who were chosen to play, how they played in terms of their clothing, the people who were allowed to watch, and such. For instance, in ancient Olympics, only men were allowed to compete in the games. At present, the Olympic Games honor equality between the sexes opening a division for the men and the women in sporting events. The men who played were also naked, while today, the Olympic Games committee is concerned with the appropriateness of clothes being worn to match the nature of the sporting events wherein one is involved. Moreover, in ancient times, married women were not allowed to watch the Olympic Games. Today, there are no restrictions regarding people who are allowed to watch the games. Overall, the main difference between the ancient and modern Olympics is the kind of societal structure by which the Olympics is set and patterned on. From the ancient form of the Olympics, the Olympic Games have been transformed in order to match our society’s sensitivity to freedom, equality, and justice, as well as peace and solidarity among nations through the Olympic spirit which lies in sports and athletics.
Beijing 2008. (2008). Competition Information. Retrieved February 9, 2009, from The
Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad. Website: http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRM/ENG/INF/GL/92A/USA_T.shtml
Beijing 2008. (2008b). Overall Medal Standings. Retrieved February 9, 2009, from
The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad. Website: http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRM/ENG/INF/GL/95A/GL0000000.shtml
The Olympic Games. (2009). The Olympic Games. Retrieved February 9, 2009, from
The Official Website of the Olympic Movement. Website:
The Olympic Games. (2009b). Ancient Olympic Games. Retrieved February 9, 2009,
from The Official Website of the Olympic Movement. Website: http://www.olympic.org/uk/games/ancient/events_uk.asp