Nicole Nation (Jamaica) on Using Sport and Education to Promote Peace Through Olympic Values

August 9, 2012

Pierre de Coubertin promoted the philosophy of Olympism, which facilitates human development through social development. Coubertin’s efforts fostered the opportunity for sports to be used as an effective tool for meaningful exchange between people from different backgrounds. This revolution was centered on seven core values: friendship, respect, excellence, determination, inspiration, courage, and equality. With the advent of the twenty-first century these universal principles are proving to be of increasing importance as hostility seems to be the reality of everyday life especially in underprivileged communities. Through the apolitical nature of sports, the Olympic values can be used to promote a culture of peace where people from different backgrounds can interact with each other, learn from each other, and teach each other.
This goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society. Multifaceted programs should be created where all school children should be taught these values. Children are the ones who can teach adults, for the values that they emulate are what they have been taught, and if what they are taught is wrong then the next generation will learn the same thing and the cycle continues. But if we stop this cycle before it even starts then we have the ability to change the mindset of a people and we can create lasting peace. A potent mixture of sports, culture and education can promote a philosophy which values genuine effort, respect for ethics, and setting an example for others to emulate.

Sports being transcultural can help opposing parties resolve their disputes peacefully in a stable environment without ever needing an external party to facilitate mediation and arbitration. Sports can be used as an ice-breaker to initiate tense talks between divided communities. Therefore the peacebuilding process should always start early where small efforts are made to connect the warring factions until peace can be full realized. Sports are a holistic vehicle through which life skills can be taught. OVEP, the Olympic Values Education Programme, is one such futuristic program. According to the official Olympic Website, OVEP is a tool to maintain young people’s interest in sport and to promote the Olympic values. For any program of this nature to have any effect, the focus should be on the most disadvantaged among us. Youth organizations dedicated to ensuring the proper development of young people should be adequately equipped with resources to promote the Olympic values as a means of solving their problems. The power to solve problems should always be in the hands of the youth, and the Olympic values should only facilitate this process.

The Olympics teach youth about self and society while promoting equality by fostering a culturally sensitive attitude in its participants. Children live what they learn, therefore I envision us engaging in a joint pursuit of creating a society which promotes activism, peacebuilding, and respect. They are values that our children will need when they have to solve the problems of their own time.
comments powered by Disqus