News Decoder
The Olympic Games: Tarnished but clinging to their ideals

The Olympic Games: Tarnished but clinging to their ideals

Dogged by corruption and politics, the Olympic Games may seem outmoded. But their ideals survive, and the Games motivate athletes and excite fans. Greek actress Xanthi Georgiou lights the Olympic Torch, Athens, Greece, 19 March 2020. (EPA-EFE/ARIS MESSINIS / POOL)...

Paul Radford has covered 17 Olympic Games, and he displays his vast experience in this “decoder” that shows why the global sporting event still matters. Radford acknowledges the scandals and politics that have tarnished the image of the modern Games and made skeptics of many fans, while examining the high ideals that led to their creation. Like the Games, youth today are torn between idealism and skepticism born of frustration with their elders’ inability to resolve the world’s biggest problems. As Radford writes, it’s a tricky balance between idealism and skepticism.

Exercise: Organize a debate in class on the resolution, “The Olympic Games Should Be Abolished”.

How ping-pong transformed U.S.-China relations

How ping-pong transformed U.S.-China relations

Ping-pong players paved the way for a thaw in relations between China and the U.S. in the early 1970s. I witnessed this pivotal moment in history. Flanked by Chinese border officials, Glen Cowan, a member of the U.S. ping-pong team, waves to newsmen at Lowu, China,...

News Decoder’s correspondents have covered many of the biggest international stories of the past half-century, offering our students an unparalleled historical perspective on complex global events. Jonathan Sharp has tapped his rich professional adventures time and again for News Decoder, producing yarns about covering the Vietnam War and showing U.S. actress Shirley MacLaine around Beijing. In his latest article, Sharp recounts witnessing a pivotal moment in China-U.S. relations in 1971, when a team of U.S. ping-pong players visited China, paving the way to a thaw in relations between the two nations. Sharp skillfully mixes personal anecdotes with an impartial look at history to transport students born more than a generation after the “transformative moment” back in time.
Exercise: Ask each of your students to speak to at least one parent to identify a moment in their youth when they witnessed an important event. After interviewing the parent, the student should write an article mixing the parent’s viewpoint in the first person with third-person background and explanation.

Tag: Cold War