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Aug. 11, 2000

The Millennium Olympics open Friday, Sept. 15 in Sydney, Australia. The world will be watching and cheering, not just your typical sports fan. In this week's University of Cincinnati e-briefing, we look at how the Olympics have changed since the tradition began. And we explore how the Olympics change both the people and places involved in the event. We're also sending you an Internet guide to the major Olympic web sites.


Table of contents

1. Background on the ancient Olympics
A. The earliest games
B. Bribery scandals at the ancient Olympics too
C. No silver, no bronze for the ancients
D. Elitism and politics early on
2. The Economic and environmental impacts of the Olympics
A. Transforming tourism for the Athens Olympics
B. Benefits from bidding to be an Olympic site
C. A Olympic-sized impact on the economy
D. TV contracts are high-budget, low profit
3. Sportsmedicine's Impact
A. The damage adds up (especially for women)
B. Video helps spot female athletes at risk of injury
C. What's beyond a human's reach?
D. Improving your own performance
E. Cautions for couch commandos
4. Social impacts
A. Olympic lessons for the young
B. Flag-waving frenzy: Miss America speaks out
C. Is a Virtual Olympics in our future?
5. A quick look down under
A. Security in Sydney: an insider's view
B. Meet the Aussies
6. Major Olympic Web sites

1. BACKGROUND ON THE ANCIENT OLYMPICS
A. THE EARLIEST GAMES
The original Olympic Games (776 B.C.-261 A.D.) were just one of four sporting contests held in cycles in ancient Greece. There were the Pythian Games at Delphi, the Nemean Games at Nemea and the Isthmian Games at Corinth, according to University of Cincinnati professor of classics Michael Sage. However, the Olympic Games at Olympia grew to such importance that time was measured by the interval between them. One Olympiad equals four years.

Unlike today's modern version, which began in 1896 in Athens, the ancient Olympics were part of a religious festival dedicated to Zeus. Like today's Olympics they placed high value on athletic prowess, Sage said. Athletes were showered with honors and gifts, including free meals for life by their home city-states. Events included foot races (both naked and in armor), discus-throwing, chariot racing, boxing, wrestling and weight throwing. contact: 513-556-1934

B. BRIBERY SCANDALS AT THE ANCIENT OLYMPICS TOO
The modern distinction between professional and amateur athletics simply did not exist for the ancient Olympics, says David Gilman Romano, a classical studies scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Romano wrote the script for an audiotape, "Greed, Bribes and Scandals: The Ancient Olympics," and a video, "The Ancient Olympics: Athletes, Games and Heroes," both produced by UC classics professor Getzel Cohen.

Greek city-states lavished their winning athletes with wealth, gave them daily subsidies for pre-game training, built statues honoring them and issued coins commemorating their feats. Outstanding athletes were sometimes lured into changing their allegiance from one city-state to another by bribery. In one such case, an athlete who won three times in a row declared himself a Syracusan on his last victory, infuriating his home city-state. Citizens got revenge by declaring his home a prison and pulling down his statue. contact: Gilman Romano, 215-898-4437, or Cohen, 513-556-1951

C. NO SILVER, NO BRONZE FOR THE ANCIENTS
Football coach Vince Lombardi was often quoted as saying "Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing." Apparently, Lombardi wasn't the first person to think that way. The ancient Olympics had only one prize -- first prize. Scholar and author David Gilman Romano says the top prize of an olive wreath was an honor "second to none," bestowed by the gods. Ancient Greeks believed the winners were the athletes who had most pleased the gods. In the case of a tie the olive wreath was offered to the gods. contact: 215-898-4437

D. ELITISM AND POLITICS EARLY ON
Gregory Crane, a professor of classics at Tufts University, calls the ancient Olympics a "Linus" security blanket for the games' Greek founders. The ancient Greeks were divided among 700 independent city-states while neighboring nations were strongly centralized. Knowing they were isolated, surrounded by other groups and nations, the Greeks picked politically weak cities in their midst -- like Delphi and Olympia (where the Olympic games were held) -- as meeting points to foster communication, cohesion and alliance-building. "The events were a chance to 'vent' rivalries in a nonviolent way."

The games also made the Greeks, as a group, feel special. It helped define who was and who was not Greek. Only Greeks could compete." Crane added that elitism of the ancient games was carried over when the Olympics were revived in 1896. The insistence on amateur status, he said, was meant to exclude the working class. "It was exclusive to 'gentlemen' who had the leisure to train and were above material reward. There was no good reason for amateur status. It was grossly abused by the former Communist countries. It's good to be rid of the hypocrisy." Crane is editor-in-chief of a Web site devoted to the ancient Olympics: http://www.perseus. tufts.edu/Olympics/. contact: 617-627-3830

2. THE ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF THE OLYMPICS
A. TRANSFORMING TOURISM FOR THE NEXT GREEK OLYMPICS

Each year some 9.8 million tourists visit Greece, and even more can be expected in 2004 when the Olympics return to Athens. While it is an economic boon, tourism can also be an environmental strain. A University of Cincinnati team worked with local authorities in Crete for the last two years to find solutions to the problems of mass tourism. Working with the city of Hersonissos, the UC researchers proposed a variety of improvements including: better transportation, a comprehensive water management plan, and a new Heritage Corridor to protect significant historical and natural landmarks. Their ideas quickly gained the attention of other Greek leaders. Four other municipal regions of the island contacted the UC team to find out more. contact: Planning Professor Michael Romanos, 513-961-3780; or Frank Wray, UC biologist, 513-745-5608

B. BENEFITS FROM BIDDING TO BE AN OLYMPIC SITE
Chasing an Olympic dream is not limited to athletes. Potential host cities do it too, in pursuit of a payoff that goes beyond medals and glory. Nick Vehr is president of Cincinnati 2012, Inc., an organization working to make Cincinnati the U.S. candidate for the 2012 Olympics. Even at this early stage in the process, Vehr sees benefits. "In addition to the things that are tangible and measureable, such as economic impact and new facilities, there are immense intangibles that are beneficial," Vehr says. "These are things such as increased cooperation among area leadership, Cincinnatians gaining an intense sense of pride in their community, and the involvement of students in particular in learning about the Olympic games and the values and ideals of being an Olympian." contact: 513-421-8200

C. AN OLYMPIC-SIZED IMPACT ON THE ECONOMY
As part of Cincinnati 2012, Inc.'s bid preparation process, UC's Center for Economic Education is helping prepare projections on the economic impact of hosting the games. George Vredeveld, director of the center, calls the impact "huge" and says it would be the biggest one-time infusion of economic activity he's ever seen in the region. Preliminary estimates this summer measure the direct impact in business sales at $2.4 billion over seven years, with most of the impact coming directly in 2012. Add in another $2.8 billion in indirect economic impact, and the center estimates the total economic impact for the region at $5.2 billion. contact: 513-556-2948

D. TV CONTRACTS ARE BIG BUDGET, LOW PROFIT
The upcoming Olympics will mark the first leg in NBC's $3.6 billion contract for the rights to air the Olympics from 2000 to 2008. According to Dr. John W. Owens, assistant professor of electronic media in UC's College-Conservatory of Music, Olympic coverage won't be a big cash cow for the network. Although NBC might make some money on the Sydney coverage, Owens says prestige is more important than profit.

"The Olympics, in part, give the network the opportunity to promote its other prime time shows, although in the past it has had a limited effect on ratings. Mostly, it's a prestige thing for the network and the advertisers involved. NBC's in the spotlight. It will be written about widely, so it's a very nice trophy to have on the mantle." NBC plans to air 160 hours of network coverage and 280 hours on cable (MSNBC and CNBC). That prompted the other major networks to postpone their fall premieres until the games are over. contact: 513-556-9493

3. SPORTSMEDICINE'S IMPACT ON ATHLETICS
A. THE DAMAGE ADDS UP (ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN)

Knee injuries involving the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL will sideline over 10,000 female athletes at the collegiate level every year. They will be joined by nearly 20,000 females involved in high school sports. "Female athletes participating in collegiate level volleyball, soccer, or basketball have about a five times greater chance of sustaining a serious knee injury than a male athlete participating in the same sport," said Frank R. Noyes, MD and President of Cincinnati Sportsmedicine Research and Education Foundation.

One of the common complications of an ACL injury is damage to a supporting structure known as the meniscus. The meniscus is often removed surgically following an injury. However, Dr. Noyes recently found that repairing or replacing the meniscus can help protect the knee joint from possibly developing osteoarthritis down the road. Cincinnati gymnast and former Olympian Jaycie Phelps is one of Noyes' patients. After surgery, she said "It's made a big difference in my knee. I can walk around without pain." contact: via PR manager Amy Leroux, 513-559-2107, www.cincinnatisportsmed.com

B. VIDEO HELPS SPOT FEMALE ATHLETES AT RISK FOR INJURY
A simple video monitoring technique can identify female athletes at high risk of knee injuries. Researchers at Cincinnati Sportsmedicine videotaped male and female athletes jumping. While reviewing the tapes, they noticed important differences in how the athletes landed. Female athletes were much more likely to land in a knock-kneed position, leaving them off-balance and vulnerable to injury. Those athletes can then be retrained to reduce the risk of injuries.

"For heart disease, doctors use a simple cholesterol test to find out who's at high risk of a heart attack. We're trying to do the same thing in sports medicine. Red flag the athletes at risk, and then take steps to prevent injuries from ever happening," said Frank R. Noyes, MD, President of Cincinnati Sportsmedicine Research and Education Foundation. Timothy Hewett, PhD, director of applied research at Cincinnati Sportsmedicine, added that "such screening and training, if implemented on a widespread basis, could help to reduce the number of female athletes injured each year." contact: via PR Manager Amy Leroux, 513-559-2107, www.cincinnatisportsmed.com

C. WHAT'S BEYOND A HUMAN'S REACH?
Olympic and world records will continue to be broken during the Sydney games, according to engineering professor Ron Huston at the University of Cincinnati. Huston uses biomechanics and computers to study the human body. He says today's athletes have better clothes, equipment, and a better knowledge of nutrition and training. They even have better pools, tracks, and athletic fields. All those factors improve performance. Huston does agree there are limits to what humans can do. We just don't know what they are yet. Huston also warns that improving performance could leave some athletes at higher risk of injury, because their bodies are out of balance. Examples include runners with lean upper limbs but very muscular legs and weight-lifters with abnormally large biceps/triceps. contact: 513-556-6133

D. IMPROVING YOUR OWN PERFORMANCE
Self-monitoring is a technique you can use to improve your athletic performance. Biomechanics expert Ron Huston at the University of Cincinnati said both positive self monitoring (PSM) and negative self monitoring (NSM) work. Positive self monitoring means focusing on your successes. Negative self monitoring focuses on your disappointments. Huston said PSM works best for improving performance in difficult tasks. Negative self monitoring works better when the task is easy. "Clearly, Olympic competition falls into the first category. In short, today's athletes are "psyched" better than in earlier years." contact: 513-556-6133

E. CAUTIONS FOR COUCH COMMANDOS
The Olympics are certain to convert a few couch potatoes into weekend warriors. If you join them, be sure to take a few precautions. UC Wellness Center Director Kirsten Lupinski says the key to success is to start out slowly and do something that's personally enjoyable. "If you don't like to run, try riding a bike or swimming. If you want to run, start by walking. Gradually start a plan to walk for five minutes, then jog for five minutes. Slowly decrease the walking as you reach a comfortable pace."

Lupinski says the "no pain, no gain" approach to fitness is a myth. "Starting out, you may feel out of breath, you may feel tired, but you don't want to push it to the point where you feel sick. We have a gauge that's called 'talk test exercising.' If you're exercising with a friend and you can carry on a normal conversation, you're not working hard enough. If you can't say three words to your partner, you're working too hard." Lupinski also reminds you to consult a physician before starting any exercise program. contact: 513-556-6124

4. THE SOCIAL IMPACTS
A. OLYMPIC LESSONS FOR THE YOUNG
James Engel spent 28 years coaching track teams in the Cincinnati Public Schools and is head coach of the Cincinnati All Stars Track and Field Club, an organization for athletes ranging in age from 7-19. Engel says his students have seen the Olympic dream become a reality for Taft High School graduate Ricardo Williams, Jr., who's on the U.S. men's boxing team. Engel says the games can demonstrate the importance of perseverance and dedication.

"A lot of kids are into instant gratification. I tell them this is long range. You have to work at it. Most Olympic athletes are out of school and working and they have to adjust their jobs around their training schedule. There's goal setting, time management and planning involved." Engel adds the games have been used in the classroom not only to demonstrate the spectacular athletes, but also to study math and science. contact: 513-561-0193

B. FLAG-WAVING FRENZY: MISS AMERICA SPEAKS OUT
Miss America 2000 and former University of Cincinnati student Heather Renee French is the daughter of a disabled veteran. Her platform is dedicated to working for the causes of homeless veterans, although she admits she'll also be rooting for Team USA in Sydney. "To Olympic athletes near and far, I cannot hold a grudge, because I feel that their endurance is to be commended. However, I do feel that the American public finds it easier to celebrate the Olympic games than to remember the perils of war. Each year on Veterans Day, we see a glimpse of patriotism around our country, only to be left aside the very next day."

"Our educational system has little to offer our students for insight into the lives of our American heroes. If we cannot set an example of pride, how are we to expect a younger generation to rise and be strong for our nation's veterans? I am the proud daughter of a disabled Vietnam veteran. He may never have won a gold medal, however, his purple heart means he is my hero." contact: via Kristin Weissman, 609-345-7571, ext. 17

C. IS THERE A VIRTUAL OLYMPICS IN OUR FUTURE?
UC artist Benjamin Britton says that electronic media tools will change how athletes compete, how they are coached and how fans experience sporting events like the Olympics. "Technology is growing so much that there are gigantic opportunities to apply it in clever and useful ways. One-on-one sports in the Olympics will be the first to feel the effects of technology. They lend themselves to 'virtual' competition. Archers could compete in virtual reality. They wouldn't just shoot at the standard targets. What about shooting at brass rings flying through the air or showers of stars?"

Add artificial intelligence, and athletes could compete with others they've never played in real life. "Think of the possibilities for weekend warriors who might want to face off against the best in the world. A natural extension of technology would allow the average athlete to compete against computerized models of the world's best." Britton, a tennis player, is hoping to one day play against virtual tennis pros like Serena Williams. contact: 513-556-0283

5. A QUICK LOOK DOWN UNDER
A. SECURITY IN SYDNEY: AN INSIDER'S VIEW
Gene Ferrara, police chief at the University of Cincinnati, will be part of the security force assembled by NBC to keep its operations safe during the 2000 Olympic Games. Ferrara helps operate the command center for NBC, which oversees a large security force primarily made up of Australians. "The security needs are very extensive," says Ferrara, who assisted NBC at both the Barcelona and Atlanta games. "NBC will have between 2-3,000 people there, located at three different hotels." Ferrara must help NBC workers get to the places they need to be, then protect the workers and their equipment at the various venues. He has seen his share of crises in past Olympics. The Atlanta bombing and a missing student worker in Barcelona were critical tests for the security forces, but Ferrara also recalls the highlights, such as meeting the members of the 1992 U.S. Basketball 'Dream Team' in Barcelona. contact: 513-556-4900 until Aug. 31

B. MEET THE AUSSIES
Many Americans hold a soft spot in their hearts for the hosts of the upcoming Olympics. "It's probably because they see themselves as kindred spirits with the Aussies," says Barry Stedman, a native of "down under" and associate dean in UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. "They started out as a British colony, too, and although they've never officially separated the way the United States has, that day is approaching," he said. "The country is also very large, almost the same size as the continental U.S. with many single-family homes and suburbs. It's not unlike the U.S. and Canada -- you can go from one to the other without feeling too out of place."

Native Aussies do call themselves Aussies, too, but they call their nation, "Oz," for short and refer to their home country as "the lucky country" because of its abundance of resources with few people to share it with, great weather, and fewer instances of extreme contrast between wealth and poverty." contact: 513-556-0225

6. OLYMPIC WEB SITES
A. OFFICIAL SYDNEY OLYMPICS WEB SITE
http://www.olympics.com/eng/

B. NBC SPORTS OLYMPICS SITE http://www.NBColympics.com

C. INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE http://www.olympic.org/

D. U.S. OLYMPICS HOME PAGE http://www.olympic-usa.org/

E. INFORMATION ABOUT THE ANCIENT OLYMPICS http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Olympics/



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