If you think that giving everyone medals just for participating is a modern invention (and leads to degradation of society), let's take a look back to 1904... when boxing debuted at the Olympic Games in St. Louis.
A total of 18 boxers participated. Of those, 15 won medals (some in multiple weight classes)! America swept podium after podium... because no other country bothered to enter any competitors. Some of the weight classes didn't even have a full podium: there were only two entrants and a solitary bout. (So, if we were alive in 1904, that bantamweight bronze could have been ours! Note if we ever find a time machine...)
Sam Berger's victory was a tad more weighty: in the heavyweight class, there were three entrants, and Charles Mayer was given a bye to the final. Berger first defeated William Michaels and then Mayer to claim the gold. He became the first in the line of Olympic heavyweight champions that includes Joe Frazier and George Foreman.
As for degradation of society? We'll get back to you on that one.