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HIUS 316: Viewing America 1945 - Present

CYOU Presentation Fall 2001

Of the seven Olympic Games hosted by the United States, four have taken place since 1945, and Salt Lake City will host the upcoming Winter Games in 2002. We will base our studies on the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics, the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics, the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, and the upcoming 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Each Olympic game to the present has been colored by the historic events going on in the United States and internationally. By looking at the Olympics held in the United States we can understand how athletics have become a medium through which Americans view their society. The four Olympics held in the U.S. demonstrate how politics, economics and popular culture are reflected in athletics and played out through our athletes. Specifically, we will be discussing the effects of the Cold War (Unit 2), Rights for Women and Minorities (Units 3, 9) and the rise in television coverage (Unit 4,12).

As we approach the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, the topic of the Olympics in America becomes ever more relevant. Additionally, the media has become increasingly forceful in Americans’ lives and will once again influence the way we are perceived abroad.

The Olympics is a window through which we can watch politics play out. In the past the social and political issues mentioned above have been brought to new light during the Olympic games. Each of the four Olympic games hosted in the U.S. between 1945 and the present can be view as records of the politics and sentiment of the times. The Olympic games serve not only as a review of history since 1945, but also as a helpful means to analyze the place of sports, athletic heroes, consumer culture and worldwide reputation through international competition.