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07 Sep 2006
IOC News

Interesting Agora on fair play

This Wednesday at the Olympic Museum, in honour of a temporary exhibition on fair play, there was a very interesting debate on this subject during an Agora led by journalist Jean-Philippe Rapp. Present were high-level athletes, coaches and specialists. A topical issue after recent events. Of course, there was a discussion about football, and especially the World Cup.
Fair play, a now-obsolete notion?
Everyone was in agreement. From the coach of the Italian rugby team to the Vice-President of the International Committee for Fair Play (CIFP), fair play’s image is suffering. In a world of violence, where there is a lack of guidance for young people, suspicion among athletes because of doping, and hooliganism, it is increasingly difficult to enforce respect of this notion of fair play, which was so dear to Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
Sport to save young people
However, all the speakers are of the same opinion. Sport is the best means to channel aggressiveness, inculcate loyalty, respect and friendship, and develop self-control, especially among young people. A mirror of society, sport remains an excellent means of integration and initiation to the respect of rules.
The origin of the term fair play
The term fair play was first used in connection with a physical activity in relation to fencing: swordplay. From 1860, it referred to the games organised in English schools. In Medieval English, the adjective fair meant “beautiful”, “pleasant” and “pure”. From the 14th century, used in the figurative sense, it was a vehicle for the idea of “correctness”. Fair play appeared for the first time in Shakespeare’s King John. It represented a courteous relationship between rivals. It would be good if we could still give it that meaning today…
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