The Olympic idea


It is hardly surprising that in the midst of his combat with Grousset, de Coubertin felt the need once again to revitalize himself on foreign soil, this time in the United States. Because of the Grousset campaign, he wrote: 'I wanted to enlarge the circle of models to follow; there were also some across the ocean and, if a crisis of educational Anglophobia was befalling us in France, we had at least the youth of the United States to provide as an example to our own.' [ 1] While it was true enough, as he went on to claim, that few Frenchmen cared about the doings of the American universities at the time, broad interest in the US was apparent in Parisian circles. [2] Boutmy, for one, had passed on from his English studies to an equal obsession with writing about the USA, and many of the Le Play society members followed him in this. Moreover, de Coubertin had in hand the results of another of his 'surveys', this one a questionnaire on physical education practices and facilities, written in English and sent to schools and universities in England, the United States and the British colonies, under the auspices of the Paris Universal Exposition (more on this below). De Coubertin received responses from 90 schools and colleges in the US, and he allowed himself to be convinced that, even though none mentioned Arnold by name, all showed that his doctrines were held in great favour, and in the United States there were no 'cracks in the pedagogical block constructed by his genius'. [3] Assured in advance, he embarked for New York on the Normandie on 17 July 1889.


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