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SPORT IN ESTONIA, 1945 – 1991
The soviet state was based on many contradictions. Democratic freedom as guaranteed by the constitution but the use was strictly limited. At the same time, restrictions were plaited with agreeable offers to people. Hypocrisy spread. The expression of the state national, cultural, and also sports politics was given the same way. This provided opportunities to gain advantage in ensuring the survival and the vitality of the nation. Physical culture and sports were the field which offered very much pleasure and was the source of initiative. The bases of the power was the standpoint that the physical training was the indistinguishable part of the communist education. The devices -«Ready for work and defense» and «All records in the name of the soviet athletes» were of great importance.
The soviet power, analogical to totalitarian regime of Hitler, contributed sports to get the strong and healthy generation to be exploited it in the interest of the state. The economic, social and educational welfare was world-widely tried to demonstrate through sports. In addition the third aim was to bring the young generation in to active practice to prevent the forming of the dissident state of mind. National thinkers also saw sport as the means of making the new generation capable to sustain the nation. Through the achievements in sport, the attempt to demonstrate what a little nation can gain was made and with this make the national ideas more effective.
Totalitarian sport, developed by the soviet power, based on the state system and finance. The positive elements of the totalitarian sport were the system of sports schools, the integrated system of the sports organizations, educating of qualified coaches, the compulsory medical control financed by the state, medical service of the sportsmen, bringing science into sport ( especially in the preparation of the teams of the Soviet Union ). The negative elements were: the demanding of the political patriotism from the sportsmen, the principle «to win in every way» against the Fair play idea, silence about the Olympic idea, non-ethical training (ignoring of individuality, only those reached to the top who bear heavy training loads), use of every kind of pharmacological means, including doping, forced training for young sportsmen, limited opportunities for the perspective youngsters in the republics to reach to the international arena.
Directing of the physical culture. Officially there existed the state and social system of directing of sports and physical culture. The state system based on sports committees of, which existed as in districts and bigger towns up to the Physical Education and Sports Committee attached to the Council of Ministers of the ESSR (in 1959-1968 the Sports Committee was substituted by the Union of the Sports Societies and Organizations). The republican Sports Committee simultaneously subordinated to the government of the ESSR and the Physical Education and Sports Committee of the Soviet Union. Obviously, there was a third and the most important subordination – the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Estonia. The Sports Committees were responsible for all what happened in the field of physical culture and sports. The state finance was directed through the sports committees. The social line based on local sports societies, which statute provided membership on the voluntary bases. The sports societies formed a united integrated system with central financing. One source of finance were the trade unions. At first every trade union uniting the workers of one industrial branch had its own sports associations. Later the sports associations were united and two of them stayed as dominating. In the towns of Estonia the majority of workers were united by the sports association «Kalev». The association tried to carry on the traditions of the sports society founded at the beginning of the century under the same name, but at the same time it was subordinated to the soviet totalitarian regime. The rural youth going in for sports were united in the sports association «Jõud» (Strength). The students sports was subordinated to «Kalev». To organize the school youth sports there was the sports association «Noorus» (Youth) attached to the Ministry of Education. Vocational education was separated from the rest. The students of these schools belonged to the sports association «Labour Reserves». Military sports clubs and sports associations «Locomotiv» of the railway workers and «Dynamo» of the of the workers of the Ministries of the Internal Affairs and Security also existed under official subordination. The distribution of the membership wasn’t strict, for example, many good athletes who had nothing to do with the organs of security or militia were members of «Dynamo». The first element of the social line was the collective of physical culture of a department /enterprise. In 1985 there were 1696 collectives of physical culture in Estonia. In reality the tasks of the collectives of physical culture were limited with mass actions and competitions between the enterprises. Mainly the sports activities demanding masterliness were carried through under the leadership of the soviets of the sports associations of towns or districts. The Republican Central Soviets, subordinated to the Republican Sports Committee, the top establishment of the state system, lead the social system of the sports organizations. The financing was based on the state finances, which flew to the central soviets through Central Soviets of the Trade Unions or by mediation of the official ministries.
Physical Education and juvenile sport. The physical education was compulsory in every school from the first class and was carried through by the program affirmed by the state. The effect of the physical education of school was insufficient due to only two lessons per week and the unsatisfactory state of the gymnasiums and sports grounds. The voluntary activities in the sections of the physical education and sports collective must had to better the situation. The pupils of the sports schools got much better physical preparation. In the 50ies,
R. Silla (future professor) started a comprehensive study which results improved the necessity of a larger scale physical education in the aspects of health as well as physical preparation. At the end of the time of occupation it was reached to three lessons a week but only in some grades.
Regardless of the appreciation of the part of the physical culture in education as a whole the great state lacked money for sports establishments, especially in schools. The existence of strict rules prevented building suitable gymnasiums in new schools. According to these rules the swimming pools didn’t have a place the school buildings. Many Estonian school directors had much trouble striving to obtain an exception. Physical training was compulsory also for the students of the first four years. The faculty of physical education and sports was formed in every university. Students had the opportunity to choose if to take part in compulsory physical training twice a week or to join the sports sections and train 3-4 times a week.
The main bases of the youth’s sports were the sports schools which worked in almost every town of Estonia. Most of them were subordinated to the Ministry of Education. In addition there were sports schools organized by the Central Soviet of the Sports Association. The superior sports skills schools were for those who wanted to become top-flight athletes. In total, there were 61 sports schools in Estonia in 1985. There were over 30 000 students in sports schools including. the Tallinn Chess School. To provide good opportunities in uniting sports and study, Tallinn Sports Boarding School with its skiing branch in Otepää was established. The schools had the right to direct the pupils with sports skills into special classes (there were 66 sports classes with 1650 pupils in 1988). Also, in the sports classes the study was organized similarly of the Sports Boarding School, that the opportunities for systematic training would be larger . The school course in the Sports Boarding School lasted a year longer than in ordinary secondary school. Formality occurred in the activities of the sports schools. To pay enough to coaches, the training groups were filled with perspectiveless pupils, there were groups registered which didn’t really exist. Still, the system of the sports schools gave an indispensable contribution in development of young athletes, being the hotbed of the rising generation.
Top-class sports. The system provided the assemblence of the best athletes of the sports schools to the sports associations or to the sports clubs of the higher educational establishments. Intermediate units were the sports companies of the garrisons of the army and the military sports clubs. Top athletes were paid scholarships (it was a really poor sum of money compared to the salary of professionals). The best athletes of the universities got the opportunity to 2 years longer study time and an individual curriculum. The effect of the offered advantages was lowered by the really insufficient finance, the bad conditions of the sports establishments and equipment. In addition, it paid its part also: 1) the psychical extinguishing of the young athletes with heavy training in early age and 2) few possibilities to take part in international competitions. Only the members of the selected team of the Soviet Union could go to the international championships. The very best reached there. Many of the young people who were able to develop, didn’t get the international hardening and the important motive. Shutting of doors before the Estonian athletes for political reasons (for example, H Lipp didn’t get to the Helsinki Olympics where he would have been the pretender of the gold medal) or for the «own son» politics of the couches of selected teams also took place. Nevertheless, the success of the Estonian athletes was remarkable. Estonian athletes won 12 gold, 12 silver and 11 bronze medals in the Soviet team (see the table).
Sports for health. It was time when the passing of the norms of the «VTK» («Ready for Work and Defense») was compulsory. The compulsory competitions of fulfilling the norms were held in enterprises and establishments, cross-country races of running and skiing. Usually, there was no training before the forced unprepared effort and it made the physical culture disgusting. In the 60ies the force methods were given up and the attitude towards the physical culture changed for better. People’s walking tours, female gymnastics, orientation events, skiing trips, people’s races, sporty weeks of health became popular. Taking part in ski marathons got prestigeous in the 80ies, especially the Tartu marathon
(65 km ). There was a year when over 10 000 skiers participated in the Tartu marathon. In connection with the bicycle race and the 20 km race the marathon made up a triple event. The real spread of the physical culture of masses was slurred by the socialist competition between towns and enterprises which turned in to overestimating the number of participants. The additional writings were done into protocols – counterfeits as it was usual in the case of socialist competitions. Considering that, the number of the members of the collectives of the physical culture given in ENE, 608 711 in 1988, is questionable. The hypocrisy of enterprises came out in organizing days of health and sports. Travels to holiday resorts were made. At first a small event of physical culture was planned which was followed by a party in sauna with much drinking of alcohol.
The attempt to organize production gymnastics was remarkable.
Personnel. 2843 wage earners worked in the field of physical culture and sports in 1985, of these 775 coaches and 1067 teachers of physical education in Estonia according to data of ENE. Majority of the coaches and teachers of physical culture were with higher professional education. There was a Faculty of Physical Education in Tartu University which specialized in preparation of coaches from 1973. In the 80ies methodical training began. In co-operation with the Faculty of Medicine, educating of sports doctors was carried out. The Faculty of Physical Education of Tallinn Pedagogical Institute prepared mainly the teachers of physical education.
Sports science. The first academic degrees in sports science were maintained in Tartu University during 1954-1957. The social scientific laboratory attached to the Faculty of Physical Education of the University was established in 1960, which gained the status of problem laboratory in 1965. From the second half of the 60ies the scientific study of sports was extensive. During the period of 1954-1990 77 candidates of science (Ph.D.) and 5 doctors (D. Sc) grew from Tartu University. The most appreciated is P. Kõrge , a Professor working in Los Angeles University. Monographs in Estonian, Russian and English were published, author certificates were gained. The Academy of Sciences of the USSR estimated the study of metabolic and hormone adaptation of the problem laboratory of Muscular Function of the Faculty of the Physical Education of Tartu University among the best works of the year in 1985.
The development of scientific study was restrained by low level apparatuses, insufficient finance, limited contacts with the international centers of sports science, few opportunities to take part in international scientific conferences. Still the limitations and necessities characteristic of the soviet sports science didn’t influence Estonia so much as elsewhere because the Faculties of the Physical Culture of Estonia weren’t subordinated to the Sports Committee of the USSR as the other Institutes of Physical Education in the parts of the Soviet Union. Therefore it wasn’t necessary to follow incompentent directions of scientific study in Estonia
Estonian Olympic Medal Winners, 1952-1988
J. Kotkas Greco-Roman wrestling Helsinki 1952
A. Antson speedskating Innsbruck 1964
S. Chirkova fencing Mexico 1968
J. Talts weight lifting Munich 1972
J. Tarmak high jump Munich 1972
A. Pikkuus cycling (road race) USSR team Montreal 1976
J. Uudmäe triple jump Moscow 1980
I. Stukolkin relay swimming Moscow 1980
M. Riisman water-polo Moscow 1980
V. Loor volleyball Moscow 1980
E. Salumäe cycling, track sprint Soul 1988
T. Sokk basketball Soul 1988
I.Kullam basketball Helsinki 1952
H. Kruus basketball Helsinki 1952
J. Lõssov basketball Helsinki 1952
M. Kaaleste rowing, pair-oar canoe Melbourne 1956
H. Selge modern pentathlon Rome 1960
A. Chuchelov sailing Rome 1960
R. Aun decathlon Tokyo 1964
J. Talts weight lifting Mexico 1968
J. Lipso basketball Tokyo 1964
N. Polyakov sailing Moscow 1980
Tõnu Tõniste sailing Soul 1988
Toomas Tõniste sailing Soul 1988
B. Junk walking Helsinki 1952
B. Junk walking Melbourne 1956
A. Krikun basketball Mexico 1968
P. Tomson basketball Mexico 1968
J. Lipso basketball Mexico 1968
G. Zazhitski fencing, USSR epee team Munich 1972
R. Arnemann rowing, fours Montreal 1976
J. Tamm hammer throw Moscow 1980
J. Tamm hammer throw Soul 1988
I. Stukolkin swimming Moscow 1980
A. Levandi nordic combined Calgary 1988