…to London, and a television near you! Despite what you may think of us bookish types, we at NPL are as excited as you are to see the world’s best athletes strut (and jump and flip and breaststroke) their stuff, and we’re already reading up on this year’s Games. That’s right. We can’t predict any better than the sports geeks whether the U.S. basketball and gymnastics teams will bring home gold (or whether Michael Phelps can do it again), but we can do what library geeks do and read about the Olympic Games!
Did you know that the original Games started in Greece in 776 B.C.E.? Only free-born male Grecians were eligible to compete, and there were only two events: wrestling and a foot race. Important statesmen and famous writers convened to observe and drink prodigiously, and every Olympiad began with a truce. All wars and disagreements came to a halt as important Greek men came together to admire their country’s athletic prowess.
Needless to say, much has changed since the modern Olympics began in Athens in 1896. Nations worldwide (and eventually women) were invited to participate, and every host country could pick their events. Some really wild ones have come and gone over the years, including club swinging, solo synchronized swimming, live pigeon shooting, and pistol dueling. (One wonders how to judge solo synchronization and what the heck the pigeons did to offend anybody).
The original spirit seems to have prevailed, though, as we continue to watch the world come together peacefully to celebrate the amazing and inspiring feats of great athletes. Remember the 1980 men’s hockey team? Kerri Strug and the 1996 women’s gymnastics team? Or – on a whole other level – Jesse Owens and the Berlin Olympics in 1936?
Who will this year’s legend be? Which country will win the medal count? Are the pigeons of England safe to watch? Check our shelves, check the newsstand, and keep up with this year’s Olympiad at Naperville Public Library!