What is wrong with the Olympic Games
- Grady McMurtry
- April 04, 2020
One of the fondest memories I have of my youth was attending the Winter Olympic Games held at Squaw Valley, California, in 1960. I was 13 years old. My mother and I were able to attend only because the family of a friend owned a log cabin near Lake Tahoe and we were able to stay near the Games for free.
I remember as if it were yesterday watching various events, but it was the long jump that really got my attention. I watched as the Japanese men bent their ankles at what seemed to be 90 degree angles and leaned out so far over their skies that their chests touched the tips. In those days it was a new technique and everybody marveled at their athletic abilities. Today it is common practice.
We attended the last two days of the Games and participated in the closing event. It was all quite wonderful and made a great impression on my 13 year old mind. I knew that this was something special, a never to be repeated event in my life. Since that time I have, like so many others, avidly watched the Summer and Winter Olympics on TV.
I am proud when our athletes win and I cheer them on even when they lose. I get a lump in my throat when the Star Spangled Banner is played at a Gold Medal ceremony. I admit to having strong national pride and I am glad when we win in our efforts against the athletes of other nations.
I played football and volleyball pretty well. I actively competed in golf and rifle shooting for years. Sport activities of all kinds are character building and should be played with the idea of winning if possible and learning to lose in such a way as to make you better at it the next time. Winning is important in life. Those who want to make participation equal to winning are wrong. Playing games without keeping score teaches mediocrity.
That being true - what is wrong with the Olympics?
The Olympic Games are thought to be some great international event to foster peace, good sportsmanship and the highest ideals of athletic competition. They are also known for generating conflict, cheating and the obsession to win at any cost mentality. The defenders of the Games say that this is only because of corruption of the Olympic ideals from outside forces. This is not true. The explanation for this corruption comes from the interwoven nature of the ancient and modern Games with evolutionism.
I have chronicled in this newsletter previously the roots of modern evolutionism in Greece 2,500 years ago. The Greeks believed in evolution back then and the Hellenistic worldview is wholly evolutionary at its root. The Greeks believed that gods, planets and people evolved.
The ancient Greeks believed that their gods were merely superhuman. Their gods were capricious, had all of the human frailties, and they were fearsomely competitive with each other. That being true, then the duty of humans was to act the same way as their gods. Indeed, this objective was then transferred to their own powers of growth and fertility, things essential to their own prosperity.
The Games became the highest expression of Greek religion. The ancient Games, held at Olympia to honor Zeus the chief of all their gods, included sacrifices and religious rituals. At Olympia a grove of trees called the Altis, located at the foot of Mount Kronos, was the most sacred location in Greece for the worship of Zeus.
Sport activities mostly originated as part of religious feasts and celebrations. Historically, competitive sports were an integral part of pagan religions and were often associated with fertility rites. The Greek Games were held at the time of the second or third full moon after the summer solstice because of their religious nature.
In contrast the ancient Jews considered the Greek Olympics to be pure idolatry. Greek athleticism was one of the cultural weapons that the Seleucid king Antiochus IV (Antiochus Epiphanes) used in his attempt to Hellenise the Jews. The Maccabean revolt which overthrew Antiochus rule was in part because of this.
It was the early Christian church that was instrumental in bringing the ancient Games to a close. The reason for Christian objection to the Games was based on moral grounds. The final Games were played in AD 393. In AD 394, the Christian Emperor Theodosius I banned all pagan feasts and stopped the use of telling time in Olympiads (four-year intervals).
There is an irreconcilable conflict between Greek Athleticism and the Christian Biblical Worldview. The invocation of anything based upon the acceptance of ancient Greek philosophy has consistently been the foundation for opposition to Christianity.
Consider the thoughts of men like Percy Bysshe Shelley. He was expelled from Oxford in 1822 for writing and distributing his pamphlet entitled The Necessity of Atheism. In it he wrote, We are all Greeks, our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts, have their roots in Greece. His statement is patently false but it reflects much of the common consensus of his time.
Such statements caused Matthew Arnold to conclude that Hellenism (evolutionism) and Hebraism (creationism) are the two points between which The human spirit must forever oscillate.
Whenever there has been a revival of interest in ancient Greece there has been a subsequent rise of interest in sporting activities. The seed of the modern Games was planted during the Greek Revival in the middle of the nineteenth century in England. During this time influential churchmen like Charles Kingsley and Thomas Hughes wrote essays and novels promoting participation in sporting events.
In 1857, Thomas Hughes novel, Tom Browns Schooldays, caused the term Muscular Christianity to be coined. The ensuing Muscular Christianity movement promoted a cult of manliness based in the classical revival covered by a thin veneer of Christianity. Hughes work played a crucial role in the resurrection of the ancient Olympics.
The classical revival was also instrumental in setting the stage for the acceptance of Darwins theories about biological evolution. In 1859, he published Origins and it influenced Charles Kingsley to become the first clerical Darwinist. This led to a fusion of Muscular Christianity with Social Darwinism (which uses evolutionary concepts in biology to be applied to the principles of economics, politics and social issues, and fosters the idea that natural selection and survival of the fittest is a socially progressive norm).
This fusion of Muscular Christianity and Social Darwinism began in the British Public Schools between 1860 and 1880 when sporting games were made compulsory. The result was that ruthlessness, honor, politeness and self-control were merged into the idea of crushing opponents while keeping a good-natured smile on your face. This behavior was described by J. A. Mangan as culminating in the secular trinity of the British Public Schools in late Victorian and Edwardian England: athleticism, imperialism and militarism.
Muscular Christianity was a flawed concept that said that friendly competition has character building and civilizing powers. Yet it had quite the opposite effect and actually ended up cultivating hatred instead.
The Frenchman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, was the most influential man in the revival of the modern Games at Athens in 1896. His inspiration came primarily from his knowledge of the ancient Games and the novel Tom Browns Schooldays. He merged evolutionary humanism with sportsmanship and friendly competition. By doing so he ensured that the modern Olympic movement would be rife with contradictions and moral ambiguities. For example, the Baron placed his greatest emphasis on participation rather than winning; but this is in stark contrast to the Darwinian Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger).
The Baron de Coubertin knew exactly what he was doing. In a radio broadcast made in 1935 he said, The ancient as well as the modern Olympic Games have one most important feature in common: they are a religion. He proceeded to explain that he had connected the modern Games with religious feelings from the very beginning of his attempt to revive the ancient Games.
Coubertin believed that the religious idea of sport was expressed in the religio athletae (religion of the athlete). To him the Olympic Games were the holy mass of this religio athletae. He stated that for him sports were: "a religion with church, dogmas, and ritual . . . but most of all with religious feelings."
Avery Brundage, President of the IOC declared that Olympism was : "a religion with universal appeal which incorporates all the basic values of other religions, (sic) a modern, exciting, virile, dynamic religion."
What is wrong with the Olympics? It is an alternative religion which embraces a spirit of supremacy, a win-at-all-costs attitude, that is completely at odds with the values of Christianity!