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1908 Olympic Games: A British Conspiracy


John Simkin
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Latest Gold Medal Table of the Olympic Games

China (42)

USA (25)

UK (15)

Australia (11)

Germany (11)

It is the best performance since we won 56 golds in 1908. As the hosts we were given the freedom to decide on what sports should be included. This included Rackets, an obscure squah-like game played primarily by public school boys. Only seven entered the competition, all of them British.

Only three countries contested the tug-of-war. A team from the City of London took gold, Liverpool Police took the silver and the Metropolitan Police the bronze.

In the 400m the British judge objected to the US winner. He refused to take part in the re-run and the gold medal went to the British athlete, Wyndham Halswelle.

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There was a tremendous piece on the BBC website about how some Australians are reacting to our great defeat. Now that we are on the losing end, we want the Brits to be magnanimous in victory... when we were not.

I also notice how the US is reporting the total number of medals gained as being "the winners", and not the normal formula of gold, then silver, then bronze.

Every now and again, it does one good to have their bums kicked.

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There was a tremendous piece on the BBC website about how some Australians are reacting to our great defeat. Now that we are on the losing end, we want the Brits to be magnanimous in victory... when we were not.

I also notice how the US is reporting the total number of medals gained as being "the winners", and not the normal formula of gold, then silver, then bronze.

Every now and again, it does one good to have their bums kicked.

There are different ways to present these figures. For example, if you create a table based on medals per million population, Australia is near the top. The bad news is that New Zealand is above them. However, whatever measurement you use, China and the USA do very badly.

Britian's success in this year's Olympics is based on the ideas used by Australia for many years. It means identifying the best sports men and women at an early age and then providing them with the best coaching, etc. This system works out at several million pounds per medal. Some have questioned this use of resources. Would it not be better to provide good sports facilities for all our young people?

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That's interesting. The article I referred to remarked upon the number of Australian coaches who had gone to the UK... and also how a concerted effort, such as the Chinese and others are applying (find them young and train them), will eventually produce an overwhelming number of champions.

There was another article about whether we have lost sight of the Olympic goal - competition amongst amateurs, not a concerted effort to dominate by "professionals".

I have little interest in sport, but it is a topic worth discussing.

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That's interesting. The article I referred to remarked upon the number of Australian coaches who had gone to the UK... and also how a concerted effort, such as the Chinese and others are applying (find them young and train them), will eventually produce an overwhelming number of champions.

There was another article about whether we have lost sight of the Olympic goal - competition amongst amateurs, not a concerted effort to dominate by "professionals".

I have little interest in sport, but it is a topic worth discussing.

If the true Olympic spirit was competition among amateurs, then Rugby would be an Olympic sport, as it is one of the most pronounced game played primarily by amateurs, (and won by USA the one year it was an Olympic sport - in the 20s, I think).

I don't mind letting the pros play, as the line between pros and amateurs is pretty fuzzy.

What I do mind is the blurring of the nationalities, as the country one represents should be pretty clear, and not for sale, but even that distinction is now being bent beyond defination.

You have an American basketball player on the Russian women's team, paid to become a nationalized Russian, something Oswald didn't even do, and which seems questionable.

Then you have an American baseball player coaching the Chinese team, an inevitable circumstance if you want the best and have no history of the game, but now I understand that the Australians are hiring the Czech shooting coach for the next Olympics. What's with you Aussies, you got to hire a Czech to teach you how to shoot straight?

So now they are hiring cross country - the richest get the best, rather than playing or coaching for one's national team.

This same scenario occurred in the America's Cup Sailing Regatta, which went over 150 years as an amateur contest between nations, until Dennis Conner put up a Pepsi Cola spinaker and set the Cup commercial when he won it back in Freemantle.

After the reluctant Japanese hired a Kiwi to skipper their first challenge, raizing America's Cup sailors-for-hire became one of New Zealand's biggest exports.

Now we have an American boat, named after a German car manufacture and skippered by a Kiwi, which is typical of most America's Cup syndicates now a days.

The point being that the same commercialization and cross nationalization (is that a word?) that happened with the America's Cup is happening with the Olympics, which has not only lost its amateur status, but is quickly losing its national identity.

Does anyone else think this is a bad trend?

BK

Edited by William Kelly
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RE: Bill's post above Georgia hired at least 2 pairs of Brazilian's to play beach volleyball for them. I'm not sure about the women but the men who came in 4th were granted citizenship despite the fact they had no Georgian relatives, never visited the country or speak a word of the language. I wonder how much pride Georgians would feel if one of the pairs won a medal, wouldn't it seem like a hollow victory?

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I was surprised to see BMX biking an an Olympic sport! It was a hot topic for debate in our office. Some even thought that some events like diving shouldn't be in there!

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Britian's success in this year's Olympics is based on the ideas used by Australia for many years. It means identifying the best sports men and women at an early age and then providing them with the best coaching, etc. This system works out at several million pounds per medal. Some have questioned this use of resources. Would it not be better to provide good sports facilities for all our young people?

John,

The same formula has been used here to sell papers to people like Evan who'd prefer the money be spent on defense.

(Even, we really don't need a defense force. All we need is Bronwyn Bishop standing on The Esplanade in Darwin Harbor with her teeth bared. I'd sure feel safe at night...she'd scare the beejesus out of any invaders).

If the British are pouring all their money into elite athletes at the expense of decent sporting facilities for all, then they are not doing as we do it here. A cornerstone of success is having a big enough pool of potential talent to draw on in the first place. You don't get that if you're not putting money into local sport.

Any sector relying on government funding will always say they need more.

If the true Olympic spirit was competition among amateurs, then Rugby would be an Olympic sport, as it is one of the most pronounced game played primarily by amateurs, (and won by USA the one year it was an Olympic sport - in the 20s, I think).

Bill,

Rugby gave away all pretense of amateur status years ago - though no doubt still an amateur sport in the US.

The type of football I follow is Rugby League. It broke away from Rugby exactly 100 years ago to form a professional league. Why? Because amateur sport can only be afforded by the affluent. Working class men who wanted to play the game couldn't do so because of the need to provide an income for their family.

It took a long time, but Rugby eventually followed suit.

There is a push to have Rugby 7s and an abbreviated form of cricket included in future Games. 7s as the name suggests is a rugby match with 7 players a side and a few rule changes here and there.

Then you have an American baseball player coaching the Chinese team, an inevitable circumstance if you want the best and have no history of the game, but now I understand that the Australians are hiring the Czech shooting coach for the next Olympics. What's with you Aussies, you got to hire a Czech to teach you how to shoot straight?

Why not? We've got a Dutch dude coaching the Socceroos and most shattering of all, a godamn Kiwi coaching the wallabies.

The point being that the same commercialization and cross nationalization (is that a word?) that happened with the America's Cup is happening with the Olympics, which has not only lost its amateur status, but is quickly losing its national identity.

Does anyone else think this is a bad trend?

I do. But the only alternatives are: going back to complete amateur status in all sports so that only people with double-barrel names can afford to participate -- or nationalizing all sports.

Edited by Greg Parker
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There are different ways to present these figures. For example, if you create a table based on medals per million population, Australia is near the top. The bad news is that New Zealand is above them. However, whatever measurement you use, China and the USA do very badly.

China 0.013 medals per million

US 0.3 medals per million

GB 0.7 medals per million

Australia 2.5 medals per million

New Zealand 6.0 medals per million

All very approximate John, but accurate enough...

I was surprised to see BMX biking an an Olympic sport! It was a hot topic for debate in our office. Some even thought that some events like diving shouldn't be in there!

Evan, synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics are not sports - and nor is show jumping. Other horse event might be acceptable - but only if there is a bookie stand on the concourse.

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I was disappointed to see the number of athletes 'flying flags of convenience' having formerly competed for a different nation.

Are we to expect, as part of the move from amateurism to shamateurism to professionalism in olympic sports, the burgeoning of competitors making sound economic judgements and moving to countries who will pay them most and/or provide best facilities?

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Britian's success in this year's Olympics is based on the ideas used by Australia for many years. It means identifying the best sports men and women at an early age and then providing them with the best coaching, etc. This system works out at several million pounds per medal. Some have questioned this use of resources. Would it not be better to provide good sports facilities for all our young people?

It's great to see us doing so well in terms of gold medals, but my personal experience says it's at the expense of local facilities, at least in my town.

Redcar used to have an indoor swimming baths through until the early 1990's, when due to its age it was demolished. 15 years later, much talk but no action in terms of a replacement. (The outdoor facility was changed to a skating rink as it kept illing up with sand, and was only usable for 6 months of the year anyway due to the weather).

Redcar Leisure Centre provides an important facility for, among other sports, badminton and 5-a-side football. Lack of investment over the years means that the roof is no longer water-tight. Twice in the last month, my weekly game of INDOORS 5-a-side football has been cancelled due to rain. Again, much talk of a new facility over the years, little in the way of action.

Redcar school playing fields are an easy target for the developers, many have been turned into housing, or are ear-marked for new housing developments, with no investment being made to protect team sports facilities for younger generations not just now, but in years to come.

This is just one town's brief history of poor investment in decent sports facilities for all, a tale that is no doubt repeated across the country. The Olympic golds are great, but what's the point of inspiring the younger generation if the only sports outlet they have is a Nintendo Wii?

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Evan, synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics are not sports - and nor is show jumping. Other horse event might be acceptable - but only if there is a bookie stand on the concourse.

That was the argument. They felt that it should not be an Olympic sport unless:

- there is race of some type where one person or team "beat" other people / teams (relay, swimming, marathon, etc); or

- points / goals are scored by people or teams (not awarded by judges), indicating a clear winner.

BTW, you are spot on with your assumption that I want the money spent on Defence. How else are my junkets going to be funded? :cheers

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Guest Gary Loughran

In Britain, the Australian academy ideas and their general elite sports approach was held up as a beacon of how it should be done. A lot of the British sports moved forward with the Autralian template in recent years. Similarly the French football approaches have been adopted by the FA. Similarly for improving technique in youngsters they've adopted the Brazil approach - namely the 'flat' ball (forget it's name) which stays on the ground encouraging good touch and technique.

There are more 50m pools in Sydney than there are in the UK. (I think there are only 2 in Ireland and none in the north)

Agree with Greg on the Rugby - I think the history of it is important in terms of general class struggles in the UK. John may have done something on it. I know he has some super articles on the impacts of class and professionalism in football in the UK, from a historical/sociological perspective.

Edited by Gary Loughran
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In Britain, the Australian academy ideas and their general elite sports approach was held up as a beacon of how it should be done. A lot of the British sports moved forward with the Autralian template in recent years. Similarly the French football approaches have been adopted by the FA. Similarly for improving technique in youngsters they've adopted the Brazil approach - namely the 'flat' ball (forget it's name) which stays on the ground encouraging good touch and technique.

There are more 50m pools in Sydney than there are in the UK. (I think there are only 2 in Ireland and none in the north)

Agree with Greg on the Rugby - I think the history of it is important in terms of general class struggles in the UK. John may have done something on it. I know he has some super articles on the impacts of class and professionalism in football in the UK, from a historical/sociological perspective.

I have done some work on this in football. For example, the Football Association was established in October, 1863.

Percy Young, has pointed out, that the FA was a group of men from the upper echelons of British society: "Men of prejudice, seeing themselves as patricians, heirs to the doctrine of leadership and so law-givers by at least semi-divine right."

One of the objectives of the FA was to maintain football as the game of the middle and upper classes. Ever since the 11th century football had been banned by the monarchy. In the 17th century it became the sport of the public schools. The aim of the FA was to establish a single unifying code for football. Each school had its own set of rules and this made league or cup competitions impossible. The first meeting took place at the Freeman's Tavern in London. The clubs represented at the meeting included Barnes, Blackheath, Perceval House, Kensington School, the War Office, Crystal Palace, Forest (later known as the Wanderers), the Crusaders and No Names of Kilburn. Charterhouse also sent an observer to the meeting. None of these clubs included players from the working-class.

The FA insisted that football should remain a sport for amateurs. As Richard Holt and Dave Russell pointed out in the Encyclopedia of British Football: "They wished to create a new sporting elite where an upper-class code of honour could be combined with the middle-class virtues of exertion and competitiveness. Amateurs advocated participation over spectating and adopted an ethical code of sportsmanship, stressing respect for opponents and referees."

Neil Wigglesworth argues in his book The Evolution of English Sport (1996) that the notion of amateurism was nurtured by members of the upper-class who "dabbled nonchalantly in the arts with no aim towards achieving excellence." Brian Belton, the author of Founded on Iron: Thames Ironworks and Origins of West Ham United (2003), put forward the theory that: "Within the public school structure, sport was employed to promote the whole system of class distinction, emphasising lines of demarcation and symbolising the fantasy of moral, cultural and even spiritual superiority."

In 1871, Charles W. Alcock, the Secretary of the Football Association, announced the introduction of the Football Association Challenge Cup. It was the first knockout competition of its type in the world. Only 12 clubs took part in the competition: Wanderers, Royal Engineers, Hitchin, Queens Park, Barnes, Civil Service, Crystal Palace, Hampstead Heathens, Great Marlow, Upton Park, Maidenhead and Clapham Rovers.

Many clubs did not enter for financial reasons. All ties had to be played in London. Working-class clubs based in places such as Nottingham and Sheffield found it difficult to find the money to travel to the capital. Each club also had to contribute one guinea towards the cost of the £20 silver trophy.

The Wanderers won the 1872 final. They also won it the following season with with Arthur Kinnaird getting one of the goals. Other winners of the competition included Oxford University (1874), Royal Engineers (1875), Old Etonians (1879 and 1882) and Old Carthusians (1881).

New clubs in the textile towns of Lancashire such as Blackburn Olympic, Blackburn Rovers, Darwen and Preston North End began to attract quite large crowds. This enabled them to unofficially pay their players small sums of money to cover their costs of appearing on a Saturday afternoon.

Blackburn Olympic was funded by Sidney Yates, the owner of a local iron foundry. The club entered the FA Cup for the first time in the 1882-83 season. Coached by former England player, Jack Hunter, Blackburn beat Lower Darwen 9-1 in the second round of the competition. This was followed by victories against Darwen Ramblers (8-0), Church (2-0) and Druids (4-0). Hunter, who also played at centre-half for Olympic, led his team to a 4-0 victory over Old Carthusians in the semi-final of the competition.

Over 8,000 people arrived at the Oval to watch Blackburn Olympic play Old Etonians in the final. Blackburn selected the following team: Thomas Hacking (dental assistant), James Ward (cotton machine operator), Albert Warburton (master plumber and pub landlord), Thomas Gibson (iron foundry worker), William Astley (weaver), John Hunter (pub landlord), Thomas Dewhurst (weaver), Arthur Matthews (picture framer), George Wilson (clerk), Jimmy Costley (spinner) and John Yates (weaver).

Old Etonians were appearing in their third successive FA Cup Final. Their captain, Arthur Kinnaird, was playing in his ninth final and his side were hot favourites to win. Goodhart gave the public school side a 1-0 lead at half-time. The fitter Blackburn Olympic began to take control of the game in the second-half and Arthur Matthews scored a well-deserved equalizer. Despite being the much better team Olympic was unable to score a winning goal during normal time. After 17 minutes of extra time, Thomas Dewhurst ran at the defence, centred the ball to Jimmy Costley, who volleyed the ball past the goalkeeper.

Blackburn Olympic had become the first northern team to win the FA Cup. Unlike previous winners, they were not really an amateur team. It was later revealed that Sidney Yates was paying the players £1 appearance money. No amateur club was to win the FA Cup again.

For the full story see the following:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Fhistory.htm

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