Last Updated 16 Jun 2020

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 sense of morality was introduced throughout the role of organized sports as an outcome of its popularity.

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Sir Baden-Powell encouraged the playing of sports since it was “the best training for the game of life" "developing a lad physically and morally, for he learns to play with good temper and unselfishness” (Document 3). An African delegate of a British colony in 1910 said that in sports lay “perfect union" and "a complete subordination of the self” (Document 4). The delegate also precluded that in order for one's country to succeed in life they must be able to attain unification through the use of organized sports.Besides the development of a strong sense of pride in one's country and the stricter enforcements of morals, sports also encouraged the improvements of physical health. In not only men but also in women, which furthered the idea of women’s equality through Europe. Soviet Physician Nikolai Semashko in 1928 stated that “physical culture in the soviet understanding is concerned not with record breaking but with people’s physical health… has personal and social hygiene as it’s major objective. ” (Semashko, Doc.

) The Soviet’s sports were seen as an integral part of the revolution, improving the well being of all citizens. The role of women also was integrated into the idea of sports and physical involvement, in 1910 women were accepted as part of the Czech gymnastics organization (doc 2), were seen to be needing the same physical training as a man (Doc 10) thereby further establishing a sense of physical equality in 1930, Germany, supported by German physician Alice Profe. And the support of female athletes on a competitive level can be seen by the appearance of females in gymnastics in the 1880’s (Doc 12).Seen to encourage “courage and agility in women which was traditionally seen as a solely male attribute. Although sports fostered a nationalist attitude it was also seen to encourage peaceful national ties. In “Peace through sport” from the British National Workers Sports Association in 1935, the international games encouraged peace between nations through “friendly rivalry between our continental brothers and ourselves on the sports field… it will be much better easier to talk peace and infinitely harder … to stir up war against eachother. (Doc 11).

The organized sports of the time period between 1860 and 1940 helped create a sense of national pride, encouraged morality and physical well being, a sense of comradery, women’s equality, as well as peaceful relations between countries, resulting in many advances culturally and socially throughout Europe. .

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Czech National Gymnastics Organization. (2018, Oct 20). Retrieved from

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