An interesting piece from the Smithsonian describing the 1904 Olympics held in New Orleans along with tie ins to the World’s Fair held there also. http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/history/2012/08/the-1904-olympic-marathon-may-have-been-the-strangest-ever/ The discussion of the marathon describes an incredible event. Despite the heat and humidity, the athletes were encouraged to not drink much water or other fluids. As a stimulant, the ultimate winner was given a concoction of egg whites and strychnine at least twice (no prohibition against performance enhancing drugs back then). One runner became ill, hitched a ride for about ten miles and then, feeling better, got out and completed the run. He came in first but an observant spectator raised hell before he was awarded the gold medal. The winner was actually carried across the finish line as he could no longer even walk. The piece provides a lot more about that event.
Along with the various athletic events, there was an Anthropology Days games held. In this, aboriginal people from around the world competed in climbing greased poles, mud fights, and dancing as well as some more traditional athletic events. The all caucasian audience was apparently entertained for the most part. However, it is interesting to note the comment made by Pierre de Coubertine, a founder of the International Olympic Committee, “As for that outrageous charade, it will of course lose its appeal when black men, red men and yellow men learn to run, jump and throw, and leave the white men behind them.” His prescience (there is that word again) became apparent in a mere eight years later when Jim Thorpe, a Pottawatomie Indian and descendant of the last great Sauk and Fox chief Black Hawk won both the pentathlon and the decathlon.
I guess our present Olympic games have come a long way in both management and in athletic skills of the competitors. Having spent most of the past two weeks driving over 4,500 miles, I am finally at home and able to watch the games.