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With Hindsight

Discovering the legacy of the Olympic Games

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To understand the meaning of hindsight with reference to the Olympic Games (SEAL theme: Self-awareness).

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and two readers.

  • Have available a selection of images of the 1936 Berlin Olympics (available at: and the means to display them during the assembly.

  • You will also need to choose a number of highlights from the 2016 Rio Olympics.


Leader: The Berlin Olympics, staged 80 years ago in August 1936, were the most impressive in pre-war history. The Olympic Stadium held more than 100,000 spectators and 49 national teams took part, which was the largest number ever. The climax of the lavish opening ceremony was a single runner entering the stadium, carrying the Olympic torch. This is a spectacle that has been repeated in every Olympic Games since.

Show the images of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Reader 1: Similarly, the 2016 Rio Olympics was a record-breaking spectacular. It began with [insert highlights], included the thrilling encounter between [insert highlights] and contained a few surprises [insert highlights].

Leader: The Olympics is always an event that dominates the news for a short period of time. It is full of highs and lows, visual splendour and intricate organization. Then it is gone, buried with yesterdays news.

A key concept that was enshrined in the 2012 London Olympics was that of legacy. Legacy is the effect that remains after the razzmatazz has gone; it is the influence that the event has on the future. Legacy can only be assessed with hindsight. So what was the legacy of the Berlin Olympics?

Reader 2: As people looked back at the two weeks of sporting events in Berlin in 1936, it became clear that something unhealthy was brewing in Nazi Germany. There was the revelation that talented Jewish athletes had been excluded from the German squad. The negative reaction to the multiple triumphs of American athlete Jesse Owens highlighted the racist policies of the Nazi government. The slick organization of the Games was recognized as a result of the developing military structure in the country. With hindsight, all the signs were there, for those who could interpret them, that this was a nation getting ready for war. Sadly, many world leaders chose to ignore the signs.

Reader 1: The legacy from Rio may not be clear yet. Probably, there will be economic consequences in Brazil from the vast amounts of money spent on the Games. Maybe there will be economic growth.

Reader 2: Socially, there will hopefully be some benefit from the development of local communities and the enhanced transport infrastructure. Maybe there will be sporting changes internationally, particularly in relation to the rampant culture of performance-enhancing drugs. With hindsight, the future for Brazil and the world can possibly be better.

Time for reflection

Leader: None of us have experienced our Olympic moment. Yet we have each had our highs and our lows. There have been times when we have been really pleased with ourselves and with our successes or our growing understanding. There have also been times when we have not known which way to turn to find our way out of a dilemma or even a failure. With hindsight, what might we make of these experiences?

Hindsight helps us to understand our experiences in a calmer, more balanced way. The experiences are in the past and therefore cannot be changed in themselves. However, with hindsight, we can trace the factors that led up to our success or failure. Things do not usually happen spontaneously. Usually, there is a series of events, choices and reactions that lead us to a particular point. Hindsight is the result of deliberately thinking a situation through and talking to others about it, so that we can identify a pattern. It can then play a part in developing our future. We identify why we were successful, so we develop a plan to repeat that success. It saves the process of trial and error or improvisation that can take up so much time and energy. Instead of taking two steps forwards and one step back, we can steadily go in the direction that we want to pursue. With hindsight, we can also trace the mistakes - the wrong choices we have made that have resulted in failure. In this way, we can plan to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Hindsight is not about dreaming and revelling in past glory, or wallowing in guilt and regret. It is a positive tool in our life.

A good example of using hindsight comes from Jesus followers. When they saw him dying on a cross, they were devastated. They fled, denied all knowledge of him and hid for fear of reprisals. But after the resurrection, with hindsight, they remembered each little phrase, each clue Jesus had given them, and it all began to make sense to them. They were able to develop a totally new approach to life, one that placed him at the centre. Its an approach - a belief - that has lasted more than 2,000 years.

With hindsight, many people would do things differently in their lives. However, what is really important is how we turn thoughts into actions and act now.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the clarity of hindsight.
Thank you that life is full of second chances.
Help us to consider the choices we make.
Please help us to remember that our actions have consequences.
Help us to live differently as a result of this knowledge.


‘If only avenue’ by Ron Sexsmith

Publication date: August 2016   (Vol.18 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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