Sport as a Soviet Tool

Courtesy Reuters

THE leaders of Soviet Russia have always considered sports to be a matter of primary importance to the state and have made their position clear in numerous Communist Party decrees and Pravda editorials. They have stated that there can be no "sport for sport's sake," that hunters, for example, must not merely look for game but consider themselves explorers with obligations to Soviet society. Their preoccupation with the utilitarian and socio-political aspects of sport is reflected in their definition of the term fizkultura (physical culture) which the July 13, 1925, decree of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party interprets as follows:

Physical culture must be considered not only from the standpoint of physical education and health and as an aspect of the cultural, economic and military training of youth (the sport of rifle marksmanship and others), but also as one of the methods of educating the masses (in as much as physical culture develops will power and builds up endurance, teamwork, resourcefulness and other valuable qualities), and in addition, as a means of rallying the broad masses of workers and peasants around the various Party, soviet, and trade union organizations, through which the masses of workers and peasants are to be drawn into social and political activity.

Thus, sports can have no independent existence in the U.S.S.R. and are merely a means to an end--the consolidation of state power through mass training and indoctrination.

Prior to World War II the Communist Party in Soviet Russia utilized physical culture and sport primarily to build the country's defense potential and facilitate other domestic purposes; but in the past ten years these have played an increasingly important rôle in furthering the foreign policy objectives set forth by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. At the end of 1946 the U.S.S.R. was represented in only two international athletic bodies, but between 1946 and 1955 it joined 25 more. Official recognition of the Soviet Olympic Committee in May 1951 made it possible for

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