by tom on March 10th, 2011
It is interesting to me how traditions are the result of repeated displays of excellence. In athletics, the Olympics have evolved from a simple beginning. Since I am a runner, well, jogger at my age, I lean to the version of how the Olympics started … as a foot race. No, not a marathon, but a sprint called a “stade”, according to one source. The race was run by men who competed in the nude and was the sole event for the first 13 Olympiads. Over time, the Greeks added longer footraces, and separate events. The pentathlon and wrestling events were the first new sports to be added, in the 18th Olympiad.
So what was the prize for winning this classic event? A wreath of olive branches was placed on the winner’s head (in Greek, this is called a kotinos) and was entitled to have a statue of himself erected at Olympia. The significance of the wreath? The olive tree was the sacred tree of Athens, Greece. In addition, the victor was treated much like a modern sports celebrity by his home city. His success increased the fame and reputation of his community in the Greek world. It was common for victors to receive benefits such as having all their meals at public expense or front-row seats at the theater and other public festivals.
There are three attributes of the Olympics that we can emulate in our celebration of workplace achievements: bestow meaningful symbols, set “world class” criteria that inspires out-performance and design public displays.Tags: art of tribute