Pierre de Coubertin
For most the 18th and 19th centuries, France was the most powerful nation in Europe. However, it lost practically every military engagement. Even in wars with England, a formidable naval power but with a small army, the English armies usually won.
Pierre de Coubertin, a French aristocrat, noticed that French military leaders argued among themselves more than they did in preparing for battle. France was not preparing its leaders for leadership. To find out why, he studied various national characteristics, concentrating on the educational system.
De Coubertin noticed that sports played a different role in English education than they did in France. In France, individuals and teams played "games," but this was considered a lower-class activity and was looked down upon by the aristocracy. Athletic activities of the aristocracy were highly individualized, such as fencing, and sports were not part of their formal education. While in British aristocracy, sports, both individual and team, were an integral part of their education.