Czech National Gymnastics Organization

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From 1860 to 1940 the role of organized sports in Europe greatly expanded and grew in popularity. The participation in sports flourished, as so did competition, especially with the development of the Olympic games. The impacts of these organized sports was a positive advance in Europe that furthered nationalist patriotism through unification, encouraged morality, and created a true understanding of the importance of physical health.

A strong sense of national pride was cultivated through sports, which can be seen in military effects. The Czechs saw the importance of sports as a way to create the perfect soldier. Miroslav Tyrs, the cofounder of the Czech National Gymnastics Organization stated that the training of athlete produced "an unbreachable defense on which the assaults of our foes will be shattered." (Document 1). Sports was seen as symbolic of war and was advertised as a game through British propaganda (Document 6). Soon sports became the training ground, one which was waged against the rest of the world through the Olympic Game. According to Martin Berner, a Berlin journalist in the 1913 article, "The Olympic games are a war a real war", "that gives enough insight into world ranking” (Document 5). Moreover, Japanese traveler Y. Mihashi stated that after his viewing of a Denmark gymnastics competition in 1930 that the athletes were like “statues come to life, with unbelievable living rhythm” (Document 9). Mihashi also spoke of the ecstasy of the spectators, cheering for their country, and the sense of national pride instilled in them. However, Sir Robert Baden Powell, founder of the boy scouts, criticized the obsessions of spectators in 1908, stating that the games often became vicious and would turn the players into aggressive figures (Document 30). The negative effect sports did have on spectators did not weaken the fact that sports did unify Europe and that the spectators were cheering in unison, but only in a rather un-orderly way.

A stricter...
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