Departmental Papers (ASC)

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Journal of American Studies





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Avery Brundage liked to say that revolutionaries were not bred on the playing field. That theme neatly expressed Brundage's distrust of any challenge to the established political and social order he cherished and garnished his speeches to countless audiences during the forty years in which he was the single most powerful figure in both the American and international Olympic movements, first as president of the American Olympic Committee (1929-53), and then as president of the International Olympic Committee (1952-72). Although the Iron Chancellor of amateur sport regarded himself as the last true defender of the strict separation of sport and politics, he also frequently insisted that more than the future of amateur sport was at stake in shielding sport from political manipulation. Upon sport for sport's sake depended the healthy psychological valuation of individual effort and excellence that was at the very heart of a democratic way of life. Moreover, fit bodies and competitive spirits were in Brundage's view essential for the continued success of American capitalism at home and abroad. Though he never acknowledged the political coloring of his vision of the Olympics, he regarded them as a kind of international mission for spreading democratic values in the continuing ideological battle between Communism and the American way of life.

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© Cambridge University Press, online at the Journal of American Studies



Date Posted: 06 March 2008

This document has been peer reviewed.