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Some Background On The Olympics From UC San Diego Sports Historian

Women's Cross-Country Skiing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. 2014
Olympics.org
Women's Cross-Country Skiing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. 2014
Some Background On The Olympics From UC San Diego Sports Historian
GUEST:Robert Edelman, Professor of Russian History and Sport, UC San Diego

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat and the stink of controversy Is all there at the twenty-second winter Olympic games being played in Russia. More countries are participating in these Winter Olympic Games than ever before, there are new events in it has turned out to be the most expensive for Olympics ever, among the controversies of the community protests over Russia's hostile anti-gay laws, violence is renting in so she and so she and Sean White coming home without it and metal, joining me to talk the deal of the games and Olympic history is my guest Robert Edelman. Welcome to the program. At last count the US has twelve metals and four gold, why is medal count so important? Isn't the point for great athletes to just compete? ROBERT EDELMAN: At some point that never existed, but yes. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How about now? ROBERT EDELMAN: At first it was a little bit of an ideology and inevitably would you have states coming together where states places can purchase me, you're going to have medals, it used be very complicated and now they just focus on the medal, I thought we just had nine as of this morning, now we have twelve. That is good. It is better than nine. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: At first it was not about medals, are you talking at first way back in Greece, or at first when these of the games were revived in nineteen century? ROBERT EDELMAN: They were revived in the nineteenth century and it's interesting to note that the model was not from Greece, it was for public and private schools and Great Britain, that is where sports really got more and you can call the modern sport, the middle of the nineteenth century all of these working-class people started taking over the sports they had to figure out a way to maintain control put of it than he had his concept of amateurism which in which they took from this is like the rugby school and it's not something that comes into the world of politics, and we remember that women were not allowed to participate. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Is interesting about amateurism and these can start as an elite endeavor, it wasn't a world coming together, or in egalitarian fashion, is the elite athletes of the world who we started the summer Olympic Games. ROBERT EDELMAN: And the athletes have of the elite, the elite asked athletes. I had that. I had not thought of that, it begins to change with coming to power and the concept of amateurism and professionalism always changing, and a dialectical relationship, as they would evolve, the concepts would change to the point where there's always came in at 1945 or 1952, and the action claim to be amateurs and there is a whole head is hesitancy of a part of the object committee because everybody knew that they were paid, and I've seen the pay schedules and I can tell you they really were professionals of course, and so that over time people in the West and capitalist countries wanted to have their athletes and their best athletes as part of this, and so by the time you get the late 80s coming into the Soviet Union, you get this situation by ninety-two in Barcelona. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Another winter Olympics were not always part of the tournament, when did they start? ROBERT EDELMAN: 1924. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Who came up with the idea and why? ROBERT EDELMAN: I honestly can't tend tell you, I think the short obvious answer is that a lot of people who were members of the international Olympic Committee enjoyed winter sports in places like one reason to go to them, if you look at the early fifth footage of Shimane, these were kind of glorified field days for schools, and they were not big spectacles or became making its is because of now, the first big one was in 1932 and LA, and that in 1936 you had a similar one in Berlin, this heavily politicized. But, that's ability politicize one, you've seen politics agreed to just about every one big competition. ROBERT EDELMAN: In one way or another, politics as they are now are trickier because everybody's capitalist, including the Russians and becomes more of a matter of national prestige and displaying nationalism, again for elites and now you have much broader dissemination of images and the results and everything is great, and I think now people can make a living at it being a skier or a luger or something like that, there are ways to do that and their people who do participate. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You have been watching the Olympics on Russian TV uninterrupted and also on NBC, I wonder how the media coverage comparison. ROBERT EDELMAN: I am interrupted by things like my family, and ours is not either at any point in the twenty 4/7 cycle there's something on NBC and is just fantastic, I think concluding with a than the summer camps as well, it really also democratize is the messages, because I can watch whatever I want, I don't have to rely on a primetime show and I don't have to rely on a anyone to tell me what it means I can make decisions myself, I think that is wonderful and that is where the Russians have always done it, and so I actually watch the Olympics in 1980, as in Helsinki and we're able to get to wash and TV and the one thing that always struck me and surprising about sports and Soviet elephant is very non-political and digital jewel about what was going on. The differences between our NBC and the Russian presentation, not surprisingly they have fewer commercials, they do have commercials, but you get a kind of different sense of what the offense are like, Julius, especially in something like skiing with electric turn, they will stay with all fifty participants in an event, and you'll see by comparison help really great great people are what you see the not so people people, and everything is that they are taking the international feed, their affect creating the international feed, for years and years because the Americans with the largest rate providers and give them money, they had their own feet and their own cameras replaced with a wanted, facing some of that is still going on now, but once you get international feed, it's more of an international perspective, and it does to a certain extent deflects the nationalism, some of less savory nationalism and it can be generated by it. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Of the things that we see a lot especially in preparation for the Olympic game broadcast, we see an awful lot before it during of correspondence talking about the amended amenities like the hotels or whether they are called their room or what the water looks like, but it's too much of that? ROBERT EDELMAN: Will tell you why, I've did this myself but I wanted for CBS for a while and you get their head of time and there's nothing going on, somebody has to make up stories about wired bathroom is a stub, if you so have one. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Exactly what is this? ROBERT EDELMAN: And they think people at home will be interested this. ROBERT EDELMAN: At their desperate, they have editors of people like you know what stars but the one thing that is an appointment the department in San Diego is short rates laws and basically did want to have anything to do with the event that he helped create, got out of that and that he did qualify for metal, what happens to half that sometimes for the good of these major competitions? ROBERT EDELMAN: What happens in any competition, stuff happens. On the day it may not be your day and that is the thing that is unfortunate. Before your cycle you make so much of that particular moment and for someone like struggling he is of the extreme circuit and many other circuits, is interacting with his peers all the time and his doing commercial work, he has a full life that goes on in between, and on that part of the day it's not his day, or maybe he is getting distracted by all that other stuff, or maybe a like the rest of us is getting older and older, the nature of sports. It's a thing for the art. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The agony of defeat. After laughter speaking of the new event that chocolate did not want to put his beta there is some file, there is a lot of different events and do you think it's good for the Olympic Games keep adding sports? ROBERT EDELMAN: It depends what is driving it and what is driving the snowboarding events and these freestyle dance of style as well as commercial events, it's really driven and in fact all of the winter Olympics have been driven and there are all these scandals back in the 50s and 60s were athletes after they won which other skis to be photographed and of course the name of a fracture was on the, this is nothing entirely new, but the Olympic programs are always in a state of flux, and softball and baseball got on and off, there's a whole thing about wrestling, I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, it's just the thing. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: One of the things we tend to see with the Olympics is the idea of it is that this is an event that brings the world together, and I guess in a sense it is true, a lot of people watch the opening ceremonies and so forth, but does it really fulfill that the admission that it sets for itself? Every four years? ROBERT EDELMAN: I have to tell you, I'm a peaceful kind of guy and I hate the opening ceremonies, the only opening ceremony that I ever liked [ [CHECK AUDIO ] ] something that you really care about them and how important, making it seem sacred, it's not necessarily the case, I am interested in the sports, you can ask the question, have you ever seen the opening ceremony in the World Cup for soccer, everything is why they're there. For this we have to be shown and told that but by the hand, and also the process you get somebody's pollution of their history to be presented to the rest of the world, and the very same famous anthropologist once said that sports is a place we tell us so stories about ourselves, and I rebel against that. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In this event of course is in Sochi Russia, a place that any of us have never heard of before and the next Olympics in reality it Rio de Janeiro, what does the Olympics bring to the location that they are at? ROBERT EDELMAN: Infrastructure, some may become white elephants but train stations and lines of better roads, they can do that but it isn't always, the best example of the example of success in Barcelona, I don't know if there's a big problem to say that the stadium summer created for the world cup in South Africa and of the use no, it works both ways, and I'm not sure the best answer to that. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Lot of international prestige elite first two weeks. ROBERT EDELMAN: You can't eat prestige. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That is true. I've been speaking with Robert Edelman, thank you very much. [ [ END SEGMENT ] ]

The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and the sting of controversy: it's all there at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games being played in Sochi, Russia.

More countries are participating in these Winter Olympic Games than ever before; there are new events and it has turned out to be the most expensive Olympics ever.

Among the controversies: the LGBT community's protest over Russia's hostile anti-gay laws, the threat of political violence erupting in Sochi and of course, Carlsbad's Shaun White coming home without a medal.