Pierre de Coubertin was a French educator and historian who was instrumental in the establishment of the International Olympic Committee, earning him the title of “Father of the Modern Olympic Games.” He was born into an aristocratic family and raised in a wealthy environment. He was sent to the Externat de la rue de Vienne, a Jesuit school, where he was strongly influenced by his early education, which established strong moral principles in him. Pierre’s father was a fervent patriot, and he grew up to be a patriotic young man disturbed by French defeats during the Franco-Prussian War. After pursuing a career as an educator, he proposed that the absence of physical education and training caused the French soldiers to be weak and vulnerable to loss by their more athletic opponents. During his visits to England, he studied the English educational system, which prioritized physical education and athletics, and was motivated to implement similar techniques in the French educational system. He eventually campaigned to resurrect the Olympic Games and was a key figure in the formation of the first International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Childhood and Adolescence
Pierre de Coubertin, initially Pierre de Frédy, was born in Paris on January 1, 1863, the fourth child of Baron Charles Louis de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin, and Marie–Marcelle Gigault de Crisenoy, into an established aristocratic family. His father was a well-known artist and an ardent supporter of the monarchy.
He grew up during a period of profound political upheaval in France. The defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War infuriated every French person, and even though Pierre was only a young boy, he was distressed by his beloved country’s failure.
In 1874, he enrolled in the Externat de la rue de Vienne, a new Jesuit school. He did exceptionally well in school and was ranked among the top students in his class. In 1880, he received his baccalaureate in literature.
Because he came from an aristocratic family, he had a wide range of employment alternatives. He was accepted into the Military School of Saint Cyr, but he had no desire to join the army. As a result, he elected to attend the Political Sciences School’s Law Faculty.
A Career of Pierre de Coubertin
From a young age, he was fascinated by educational theory and decided to pursue a profession as an educator and thinker. He had read English books as a teenager, from which he learned about the late nineteenth-century English public school system, which was concentrated on athletics. In 1883, he traveled to England to learn more about the English educational system.
He examined Thomas Arnold’s physical education program at the Rugby School in England and was fascinated by how England had blended physical education and sports into the academic curriculum. The French school system at the time was primarily concerned with the intellectual growth of the mind, with physical training receiving no consideration.
He began disseminating the idea of a balanced education system in France, determined to transform the French education system through athletics. He spread this idea using any methods he could, including lectures, speeches, and writings, and was able to obtain widespread support for the inclusion of physical education in academic curricula.
He returned to England on several more occasions, during which time he learnt more about their educational system and met important English sports figures. In 1890, he met William Penny Brookes, an English educator who had created the British Olympic Games in 1866. Brookes was dedicated to recreating the Olympic Games on a global scale. Coubertin chose to take up the cause after being deeply affected by Brookes.
Following his encounter with Brookes, he immediately set on re-establishing the Olympic Games, eventually convening the International Athletics Congress in Paris in 1894. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was established soon after, and the Olympic Games were resurrected.
In 1896, the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece, and Pierre de Coubertin was elected president of the International Olympic Committee. The inaugural Olympic Games were a huge success, but the Olympic Movement would confront significant challenges in the years ahead. The 1900 Games in Paris and the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, both failed to gain traction.
The 1906 Intercalated Olympic Games, on the other hand, were a huge success, helping to cement the Olympic Games as the world’s premier sporting event. A few years later, in 1912, the Olympic Games in Stockholm received a rousing welcome.
Coubertin relocated the IOC’s headquarters to Lausanne, Switzerland, during World War I. He persisted in promoting the Games as a means of fostering peaceful relationships between nations around the world. His dedication to the Games, however, lost him his money—he had spent a considerable percentage of his fortune promoting the games, and his financial situation deteriorated during the war.
The Olympic Games were held in Paris once more in 1924. This time, the event was a resounding success, which satisfies Coubertin’s ever-increasing ambitions. After the Games, he stood down as IOC President, but remained Honorary President of the IOC until his death in 1937.
Major Projects of Pierre de Coubertin
Pierre de Coubertin is widely regarded as the founder of the Olympic Games. He established the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in order to revitalize and promote the Olympic Games around the world, as well as to head the Olympic Movement. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the governing body of the modern Olympic movement worldwide.
Achievements & Awards
For his poem ‘Ode to Sport,’ he received the gold medal in literature at the 1912 Summer Olympics.
In 1936, he was awarded the Virginie Heriot Prize.
He was named Honorary Citizen of Lausanne in 1937, the IOC’s headquarters since 1915.
He was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2007 for his contributions to rugby union.
Estimated Net Worth
Pierre is one of the wealthiest historians and one of the most well-known historians. Pierre De Coubertin’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
Personal History and Legacy
In 1895, he married Marie Rothan, a family friend’s daughter. They had two children together. Their son suffered from severe sunstroke as a youngster and lived with the consequences for the rest of his life. Their daughter struggled with emotional problems and was unable to live a normal life. The relationship between Pierre de Coubertin and his wife was also damaged by these family tragedies.
Pierre de Coubertin passed away on September 2, 1937, from a heart attack.
The Pierre de Coubertin medal was established by the International Olympic Committee in 1964 to award athletes and former athletes who exemplify the spirit of sportsmanship in Olympic competitions or by outstanding contribution to the Olympic movement.