People Who Kick Buts: Baron De Coubertin
The essential thing in life is not so much conquering as fighting well.
- Born on January 1 1863 and passed away on September 2 1937.
- Was a French educationalist and historian, founder of the International Olympic Committee, and is considered the father of the modern Olympic Games.
- Born into a French aristocratic family, he became an academic and studied a broad range of topics, most notably education and history
- His father Charles was a staunch royalist and accomplished artist whose paintings were displayed and given prizes at the Parisian salon, at least in those years when he was not absent in protest of the rise to power of Louis Napoleon.
- In October 1874, his parents enrolled him in a new Jesuit school called Externat de la rue de Vienne, which was still under construction for his first five years there.
While many of the school’s attendees were day students, Coubertin boarded at the school under the supervision of a Jesuit priest, which his parents hoped would instill him with a strong moral and religious education.
There, he was among the top three students in his class, and was an officer of the school’s elite academy made up of its best and brightest.
- As an aristocrat, Coubertin had a number of career paths from which to choose, including potentially prominent roles in the military or politics. But he chose instead to pursue a career as an intellectual, studying and later writing on a broad range of topics, including education, history, literature, and sociology.
- The subject which he seems to have been most deeply interested in was education, and his study focused in particular on physical education and the role of sport in schooling. In 1883, he visited England for the first time, and studied the program of physical education instituted by Thomas Arnold at the Rugby School.
- What Coubertin saw on the playing fields of Rugby and the other English schools he visited was how “organised sport can create moral and social strength”.
- Not only did organised games help to set the mind and body in equilibrium, it also prevented the time being wasted in other ways. First developed by the ancient Greeks, it was an approach to education that he felt the rest of the world had forgotten and to whose revival he was to dedicate the rest of his life.
- Pierre was the last person to the family name. In the words of his biographer John MacAloon, “The last of his lineage, Pierre de Coubertin was the only member of it whose fame would outlive him.”