Jesse Owens

Hitler, Water Polo, and Black Power: A History of Politics at the Olympics
July 27, 2012

Whether or not Mitt Romney’s multiple gaffes in London end up hurting his presidential campaign, they’re a good opportunity to remember that political skirmishes have always been part of the world’s premier international sporting event. Which should come as no surprise: Given that the athletics are themselves considered displays of national prowess, it’s only natural that they become proxies for grander geopolitical struggles. But which events would compete for the gold (so to speak) for most outlandish Olympics political conflict ever?

The Olympic Games: The First Thousand Years
July 03, 1976

The Olympic Games; The First Thousand Years by M.I. Finley and H.W. Pleket (Viking; $12.50) Olympia is not as pretty as the pictures in this book. But if we read its text with care, we learn to see between the lines of Pindar's odes. The history of this athletic festival epitomizes man's capacity for self-delusion. The so-called Sacred Games were neither holy nor, in our sense," played" Time, the Greek word for honor, the goal of heroes on the field of battle or of sport, has also from the earnest connotated acquisition of wealth.