According to Wiki the Pythian Games at Delphi: “were founded sometime in the 6th century BCE, and, unlike the Olympic Games, also featured competitions for music and poetry. The music and poetry competitions pre-dated the athletic portion of the games, and were said to have been started by Apollo.’
So the relationship between the games at Delphi and Olympia equates to that between Athens and Sparta. Athens had a fine balance between cultural and physical prowess. Sparta cared only for the physical and military. So my proposal is to scrap the Olympic Games and replace them with a new series of Pythian Games – which should balance athleticism with cultural competitions, including poetry, music, oratory and dance. It is not so much that these activities have value: it is that mind and body are part of a single organism and we should not over-develop one at the expense of the other.
Or, since the language and culture of Ancient Greece was Indo-European and Central Asian in origin, perhaps we should re-form the Olympic Games on the basis of Celtic festivals. The Celts represent another great Indo-European tradition and we could look to the Highland Games in Scotland and the Eisteddfod in Wales. Anything would be better than the cynical, commercial, drug-taking body-damaging, militaristic, mindlessness tedium of the modern ‘Olympic movement’.
Photo of Eisteddfod courtesy Sara Branch