Drawing a bright (colored) line between the ancient and modern Olympic Games

During the ancient Olympic Games, long before petchems made modern life possible, there was a very limited selection of Olympic sports to choose from. Because there were no petchem products, Olympic competition was pretty much limited to running races, wrestling, and throwing things.

This point was brought home by a striking graphic on the official Olympic website that renders all of the summer Olympic sports into simple line-drawn logos. Each of the 41 logos (save two) features a human character, drawn in gray, engaging in a sport with equipment drawn in vibrant color. Virtually every item drawn in color—from the badminton racquet to the trampoline—is derived from petchems.

There are exceptions, of course. For instance, water sports like diving and synchronized swimming feature colored line drawings of the water not the swimsuits. But the fact remains, the modern Olympic games simply would not exist were it not for petchems.

And those two exceptions among the 41 logos, the ones without a colored line drawing? They depicted “Wrestling” and “Athletics” (the catch-all category for people running races and throwing things), which encompassed almost the entirety of the pre-petchem ancient Olympic Games.