Monday, August 8, 2016

1908 Olympic Etiquette Breaches

Regardless of the flag etiquette controversy at 1908 Olympic Games, and the scoring issues, all countries returned for the 2012 London Olympics... but in 1908, some of the Irish competitors, who had been told to parade under a British flag, refused to march. Furious the stars and stripes were not flying from the stadium flagpoles, the American team marched into the stadium, but refused to dip their flag to the King. The Finns, who'd been instructed to carry a Russian flag, marched with no flag at all.

Olympic Teams Disgusted
Action of British Committee in Changing Rules Arouses Great Criticism

Events of the last three days in the London Stadium during the progress of the Olympic games to establish the world’s championships in athletics have proved one point which has been a matter of general belief for years. The British people are hard losers. They are unfair losers. They have sought by all the most contemptible and petty devices they could think of to so arrange matters that they shall have a distinct advantage over all other nations in the competitions for the world’s figures.

Bringing to their shores the teams of the other countries for a world-wide competition, the Englishmen have changed conditions, introduced several features distinctly forbidden by the rules, and have displayed a spirit of petty jealousy and desire to be uppermost at all hazard, that has cost them the respect of all athletic bodies the world over. It is inconceivable that a body of strong-muscled and clear-minded men should descend to such smallnesses as have been exhibited in the last week at the Olympic Games. 

First, the visiting nations, and especially the Swedish and American teams, were offended by the careless omission of their flags from the colors of the Stadium on the opening day. This was a breach of etiquette that was unpardonable except among the boorish and thoughtless Englishmen

Scoring Rules Changed

Then followed the controversy over ruling regarding the scoring of points, which, when the Americans began to show up strongly in the lead, was also changed as to take in all sports outside the Stadium, and therefore give the home teams a decided advantage, from the common scoring system of five points for first, three for second place, and one for third place, the scoring was altered by the assistance of the London sporting papers to count only the winning place, for which one point was allowed. This system gives England a big lead, whereas by the other and commonly used method, the American team had the honors. 

Throughout all events the British sportsmen have exhibited a spirit of jealousy of good performances of other athletes which has made them objects of scorn. There is no question that the American athletes, as well as those of other nations, are thoroughly disgusted with their reception at the hands of the Englishmen, and the games of this year are probably last that will ever go to the British Isles. 

One thing is assured, that there will be no teams entered from at least three nations, in the event of any of these championships ever being held again in British territory. — Sacramento Union, 1908

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia