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From the outset of the twentieth century sport had not flourished in Italy to the same extent such as countries such as The uk. The majority of the Russian population were peasants, spending hours each day on back-breaking lawn work. Free time was difficult to come by and even then people were often exhausted from their work. Of course people did still play, enjoying such traditional games as lapta (similar to baseball) and gorodki (a bowling game)  사설토토. A smattering of sports clubs existed in the larger cities but they stayed at the preserve of the richer members of society. Ice hockey was start to grow in popularity, and the high echelons of society were attracted to fencing and rowing, using expensive equipment most people could not have been able to afford.

In 1917 the Russian Innovation turned the world upside down, inspiring millions of people with its vision of a society built on solidarity and the fulfilment of human need. In the process it removed an huge increase of creativity in art, music, beautifully constructed wording and literature. It carressed other areas of people’s lives, including the games they played. Sport, however, was far from being a priority. The Bolsheviks, who had led the innovation, were confronted with city war, invading armies, widespread famine and a typhus pandemic. Tactical, not leisure, was the order of the day. However, during the early area of the 1920s, before the dreams of the innovation were killed by Stalin, the debate over a “best system of sports” that Trotsky had expected did indeed take place. Two of the groups to tackle the question of “physical culture” were the hygienists and the Proletkultists.

As the name implies the hygienists were a collection of doctors and health care professionals whose perceptions were informed by their medical knowledge. Generally speaking we were holding critical of sport, concerned that its focus on competition placed participants at risk from injury. We were holding equally disdainful of the West’s preoccupation with running faster, throwing further or jumping higher than any other time. “It is very unnecessary and unimportant, inches said A. A. Zikmund, head of the Physical Culture Institute in Moscow, “that anyone set a new world or Russian record. inches Instead the hygienists encouraged non-competitive physical pastimes : like gymnastics and swimming -as ways for people to stay healthy and relax.

For a period of time the hygienists influenced Soviet policy on questions of physical culture. It was on their advice that certain sports were disallowed, and football, boxing and weight-lifting were all disregarded from the programme of events at the First Trade Union Games in 1925. However the hygienists were far from unanimous in their condemnation of sport. V. V. Gorinevsky, for example, was an advocate of playing tennis which he saw as being an ideal physical exercise. Nikolai Semashko, a doctor and the People’s Commissar for Health, went much further in conflict that sport was “the open gate to physical culture” which “develops the kind of will-power, strength and skill that will distinguish Soviet people. inches

In contrast to the hygienists the Proletkult movement was unequivocal in its denial of ‘bourgeois’ sport. Indeed they denounced most things smacked of the old society, be it in art, literature or music. They saw the ideology of capitalism stiched into the fabric of sport. Its competitiveness set workers against each other, dividing people by tribal and national identities, while the physicality of the games put made with chemicals strains on the bodies of the players.

In preference to sport Proletkultists put forward the proposition for new, proletarian forms of play, founded on the principles of mass engagement and cooperation. Often these new games were huge theatrical displays looking similar to carnivals or parades than the sports we see today. Challenges were shunned on the basis that they were ideologically incompatible with the new socialist society. Engagement replaced spectating, and each event contained a distinct political message, as is apparent from some of their names: Rescue from the Imperialists; Smuggling Revolutionary Literature Across the Frontier; and Helping the Proletarians.

It would be easy to characterise the Bolsheviks as being anti-sports. Leading members of the party were friends and comrades with those who were most significant of sport during the debates on physical culture. Some of the leading hygienists were close to Leon Trotsky, while Anotoli Lunacharsky, the Commissar for the Enlightenment, shared many views with Proletkult. In addition, the party’s attitude to the Olympics is generally given as evidence to support this anti-sport claim. The Bolsheviks boycotted the Games in conflict that they “deflect workers from the class struggle and train them for imperialist wars”. Yet in reality the Bolshevik’s perceptions towards sport were somewhat more complicated.

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