The new online course entitled “The Olympic Games and the Media” began today with a large global audience. Organized by American education company Coursera, and offered free of charge, the content and videos are from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, which has its own Olympic Studies Centre. The curriculum for the first week introduces many of the most important aspects of the modern Olympics and relates them to the rapid growth of mass media during the same period.
“The Olympic Games and the Media” presents the modern Olympics as both a celebration and as a path to self-improvement. The benefits of self-improvement extend far beyond individual athletes to host cities and entire new communities that are revitalized with the Olympic spirit.
Course leader Emilio Fernandez Peña underscores the very special goal of the modern Olympics to reach the largest possible audience. He credits part of the success of the modern Olympics in achieving this goal with its start at about the same time of rapid growth of new communications technologies well suited to a sporting event on a global scale. In particular, the first modern Olympics in 1896 coincided with the earliest era of motion pictures and theater newsreels, the first mass media that could bring the visual images of these sporting contests to life in distant locations. The long term vision for the growth of mass media at the Olympic Games anticipated the future development of even more powerful mass media and means to reach even larger audiences.
Like most academic Olympic Studies programs, the course pays tribute to the founder of the modern Olympics and IOC President from 1896 to 1925, Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin. The course’s focus on media relations highlights a little known aspect of de Coubertin’s talents. He was an exceptionally frequent author and published forty-four books and eleven-thousand articles on the subjects of physical education, the Olympic movement and individual Olympic sports. Pierre de Coubertin’s practical experience as a frequent author helped him develop a rare and effective insight into the best ways to implement public relations strategies. Of course, this included enduring symbols such as the Olympic rings and Olympic flame, as well as the distinction of organizing an event on a truly global scale.
If you would like to benefit from the excellent content and expert instruction offered by this free online course, there are still a few places open for online registration early this week. The course continues until July 4.