The Olympics Past and Future (New, Live Version)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Matthew Andrews teaches American History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His courses use the history of sports to explore race relations, gender ideals, political protest, and American identity. Professor Andrews was asked by the UNC student body to give the honorific “Last Lecture” to the graduating class of 2015. His students have voted him their university’s “Best Professor” three times since 2016.


As the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games approach, this talk will explore the complex relationship between the Olympic Movement and global politics. By focusing on a handful of the more significant Olympiads, we will consider the paradox of an event that was created to celebrate human commonality, but one that requires athletes to compete as representatives of different nations. We will look to the past and point to the future–exploring how the United States and other nations have used the Games for nationalist propaganda, and how individual athletes and spectators have used the Games as a global theater for political protest. We also will consider the vexing question facing Olympic officials in the summer of 2024–namely, should athletes from Russia be allowed to compete?



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Mike Jarecki


Excellent presentation but what about Jesse Owens? “Owens success at the games caused consternation for Hitler, who was using them to show the world a resurgent Nazi Germany.” An incredible and controversial story. Probably enough for a presentation by itself.

4 months ago
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