"Art Competitions were held at the Olympics 1912 to 1948. The winners of the competitions were awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals, similar to the winners of the athletic competitions.
The events were inspired by Pierre de Coubertin, who wished to meld the competitions in sports with competitions in the arts. The art competions were dropped from the Olympic program because of the difficulty of determining the amateur status of the artists."
I love it when I discover how little I know about areas where I have a deep involvement. And then I wonder how little I know in areas about which I have spent much less time learning.
I never knew that it used to be possible to compete in the Olympics in Literature. Not only that, but there were multiple categories including dramatic works, Epic Works, "all Kinds," and lyrics.
Though a quick Google Search reveals several sites verifying this information, the most complete list of categories and winners I was able to find was on Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_competitions_at_the_Olympic_Games
And, to add to my surprise, other non-literary Olympics competitions were held in such diverse fields as Architecture, Sculpture, Paintings and Graphic Art, Music, and get this... Aeronautics and Alpinism.
It's just a bit amusing that the Olympic Arts Competitions were dropped because "of the difficulty of determining the amateur status of the artists."
Maybe I'm an old fogey, but I still remember when there was an attempt to ensure that the Olympic ATHLETIC competition was limited to amateurs. Ha! I realize that there was little success in ensuring amateur athletic status, but there was something pure in the intent. But, then politics on the global scale became a pressure point on award counts and those Russian "Reds" were hauling in the gold and silver and bronze at record rates so questioning their athletes' amateur status became the cover issue for explaining why the "reds" kept doing much better than the "red, whites, and blues." Of course, it's all a mute point today as amateur status really isn't "spoken of" much given what everybody knows about what it takes to be good enough to compete at the Olympic level.
Perhaps then it's time to bring the arts back to the Olympics. Hey! Here's an idea... why not run the Olympics sort of like the Miss America contest where there is an attempt to require the beauty queens to prove they also have intelligent opinions and/or "other" talents?
Maybe a Jeopardy-like pre-competition in the qualifying rounds and then a grand Jeopardy match .... oh forget it. That's probably silly.
I was a bit happy to see that the Brits threw in quite a significant homage to their literary history in their opening ceremonies.
Keep the faith Brits!
To honor the Brits' love of competive literature, here's an oldie but a goodie.
Monty Python's Novel Writing as a spectator sport.