The way our U.S. team was selected for those first modern Olympic games held at Athens in 1896 would seem extraordinary to an athlete of 1932. In effect we selected ourselves. When an invitation was received in this country, asking the United States to send representatives to Greece, the powers of the Boston Athletic Association went into a huddle and decided that the B.A.A. had a pretty good track team which had met with reasonable success at home and that the Association could afford to send a group of seven athletes and a coach to the first Olympiad. Princeton University also decided to send over a small team, and as the amateur standing of all was satisfactory, that was all there was to it. Naive? Yes, but so was the whole idea, which had blossomed in the brain of Baron Pierre de Coubertin. So were the competitors and so were the spectators. So were most of the governments which sent representatives to Athens, and so were many of the incidents, which seem just as funny today as they did at the time, perhaps even more so, in view of modern developments.
We sailed by the southern route to Naples, passing the Azores, and we kept in condition as well as we could by exercising on the afterdeck. At Gibraltar the British officers invited us to use their field for practice, and we managed to get rid of our sea legs to a certain extent. But when we arrived at Athens on the day preceding the opening of the games—after crossing Italy by train, spending twenty-four hours on the boat from Brindisi to Patras, and then crossing Greece by train—we were not exactly in what today's Olympic coaches would call the pink.