Arguably the biggest sporting event in the world today is the Olympics. Countries bid for the right to host the Olympics several years in advance, and the world's elite athletes endure countless hours of training and several rounds of qualification competitions with the hope of representing their country as an Olympian. A tremendous buzz develops as the Games draw closer, climaxing with a glamorous opening ceremony and concluding with an equally spectacular closing ceremony.
However, there wasn't always such fanfare surrounding the Olympics. In fact, according to Dr. Patrick Lake, head of The Hill's classics department and head girls' track and field coach, the Olympics originally "were a very bare-bones event."
Dr. Lake earned his doctorate in classical languages and literature from Fordham University in 2011. The concentration of his studies was ancient Greek, and he has extensive knowledge of the ancient Olympics, which he shared with Frank Otto of The Pottstown Mercury. Unlike today's Olympics, which feature more than two-dozen events, the ancient Olympics only consisted of one event for the first 48 years and were only open to those who spoke Greek, noted Lake. Another major difference cited by Lake was the near-immortal treatment of Olympic winners and their descendants, while second place finishers received nothing.