While there have been many sour incidents in sport globally especially in the recent World Cup of Football, we can refer to some outstanding examples of sportsmanship and principle in sport that lend themselves to enriching the movement for peaceful understanding and lifelong friendship.
At the Berlin Olympics in 1936, the world’s fastest and most renowned athlete, Jessie Owens, triple world record holder, was competing in the long jump. His strongest competition came from one of Hitlers Germany. The athlete, Long, was ahead of Owens in the event but recognised that Owens could have done better if he adjusted his run-up. Long, a white man, in defiance of what many would have considered the Hitler tradition, moved over to Owens, a black American, and advised him of the problem with his jumping. Grateful for the advice, Owens made the adjustment and eventually won the event ahead of Long.
The two men embraced each other following the event and became friends for life.
There are not many athletes in sport who would have done that.
Indeed there may well be many who would have considered Long very foolish to have engaged in such action.
But it is precisely that type of action that Olympism seeks to promote.
It is about being there for each other and recognising that in sport there is a striving after excellence that should allow the best to emerge victorious.
It is about helping each other to become the best that he/she can be. It is about being appreciative of others who are better on a given day.
It is about caring and sharing.
Long lost the silver medal, but he came to know and appreciate a man, Jesse Owens, who came from a race that was seen at the time as inherently inferior because of the colour of their skin. He helped to demystify that sort of thinking and aided in the debunking of a pseudoscientific theories that sought to justify it.
The world of sport has changed dramatically over the years.
Sport has become so highly competitive that it has attracted millions across the world. That makes for a large market.