Sport and Moral Values: from Experience of Moscow Sports Organizations of Late XIX - Early XX Centuries


A.A. Perevoznikov, candidate
Institute for Human Sciences, Moscow City Pedagogical University, Moscow

Key words: sport, sports club, sports association, moral values.

The issues of the moral aspect of sport and its impact on the formation of personality are relevant today. In modern sport the principles of "fair play" are being actively promoted, that encourage the noble behavior of athletes. However, such principles are largely declarative. The specificity of the modern society overshadows the moral aspects of personality formation. In sports, as a model of society, moral degradation processes occur in full. In this context, the experience of Russian sport hundred years ago seems to be very valuable.

The purpose of the study was to analyze the historical content of sport and its influence on the personality formation.

Results and discussion. The origin of Russian sport refers to the late XIX – early XX centuries, with sports clubs and communities being the organizational basis for the development. The very concept of “sport” was significantly different from the modern interpretations: “classes in the form of physical exercises to develop strength, agility and beauty of the body, and also generally aimed at pleasure” [5], “a series of actions not for money which require strength, agility, endurance and courage” [3, p. 8], etc. Sport was formed basing on the principles of voluntariness, amateurism, ethical behavior and high social activity among its fans. It is important to note that originally Russian sport meant a combination of physical and moral values. As noted in the journal “Russian sport”, the new generation “is avidly looking for new ways of physical and moral rebirth” [2, p. 3].

In the public mind at that time a person engaged in sports and belonging to a sports organization, in addition to the development of physical qualities, should have had appropriate moral qualities. At the turn of the XIX - XX centuries the common phrase was: “It is not a sportsmanlike action,” when speaking about some unseemly act.

The sports organizations of Moscow and Moscow Province supported this idea, believing that the membership in a sports organization imposed certain moral obligations. An analysis of the charters of sports organizations shows that they all included the item stating that “as a result of acting against the rules of the charter or common notions of honor and decency,” the members of communities were excluded from sports organizations [6, f. 6 ver.; 7, f. 28 ver.; 8, f. 18 ver.; 10, f. 4; 11, f. 4; 12, f. 2; 13, f. 9; 15, f. 8]. This item was specified in a number of charters of sports organizations. As stated in the charter of Novogireevo sports community, “a person who demeans by his behavior the assigned to him title of a member of the Community, may be excluded from the Community by a resolution of the general inappealable meeting” [9, f. 6 ver.].

According to Paragraph 6 of the sports circle “Sparta” in Mytishchi, “an act against the law, honor and decency can be tolerated neither within the circle, nor out of it, no matter under what circumstances it was committed, and therefore such act, as well as all minor misunderstandings, controversies and arguments during meetings, parties, excursions, competitions and generally in all other cases are brought to notice of the Board to be reported at the general meeting.” And further: “The circle members stand mutual bail for each other and in every way and as possible assist in the elimination of complaints against the members of the circle which in its spirit, as a circle of athletes, should serve as a model and a good example for all nonmembers” [14, f. 25].

Athletes and members of sports organizations strictly adhered to the principle of amateurism in sport. “The principle of amateurism was held sacred back then. An athlete should not benefit even a little from sports occupations. On this basis, physical education teachers were considered professionals, as they were paid for their activities.” And further: “There was a special clause in the resolution of the Moscow football league on awarding commemorative badges to the team players who took prize-winning places in the tournament that these awards had to be not valuable” [14, p. 24]. Professional athletes or those who participated in competitions for a fee were not admitted by most of sports organizations [10, f. 3 recto; 11, f. 4 recto; 13, f. 9 recto].

The ideas of Olympism widely spread in Russia in the early XX century also contributed to the formation of moral grounds of sport. In 1913 the Moscow Olympic Committee was founded, and already in 1914 it contained 9 city leagues of different sports, which were taking all possible measures to strengthen discipline and form patterns of behavior in the sports sphere. In 1914 the Moscow Olympic Committee adopted general rules to control amateurism in sport. The committee discussed the possibilities of holding the Russian Olympic and the Russian Nordic Games in 1915 in Moscow, as this city was a recognized leader in winter sports [1, pp. 5-6].

Unfortunately, due to the moral degradation inherent to Russian society as a whole at that time this task was extremely difficult to accomplish. The soon followed tragic events of the Russian history, associated with the onset of the World War I and the revolutions in 1917 prevented from successful completing of the ongoing process.

Conclusion. The moral content of sport is the core foundation of the activity of sports organizations in Moscow and Moscow Province. Sports organizations put into life the ideas of sports ideals, which combined physical and moral perfection. Sport acted as a way to overcome crisis phenomena, contributed to the consolidation and involvement in training of great masses of the population. Unfortunately, the powerful educational function of sport is hardly used in the modern society. However, some attempts are taken to bring the moral principle back to sport, which provides the harmonious development of the personality, respect, the connection of sport and art. In this connection it is necessary to mention the movement "SpArt" (sports, spirituality, art), which is gaining popularity in different regions of Russia.

We believe that the lack of morality is still the central problem of domestic sport, because without the spiritual aspect sport can perform only utilitarian functions and used to satisfy political ambitions and economic interests.


  1. In Moscow Olympic Committee // Russkiy sport. – 1914. – № 12. (In Russian)
  2. Sport Time // Russkiy sport. – 1914. – № 4. (In Russian)
  3. Yearbook of the Community of skiing lovers in Moscow on 1910/191 1910/191. – Moscow, 1910. (In Russian)
  4. Romm, M.D. I am a fan of "Spartak" / M.D. Romm. – Мoscow: Fixkultura i sport, 1962. – P. 24. (In Russian)
  5. Sports // Small Encyclopedic Dictionary F.-A. Brockhaus and I.A. Ephron. 2nd ed. V. 2. Iss. 4. - St. Petersburg, 1909. (In Russian)
  6. CIAM. 16. 27. 47. – On the establishment of the Moscow amateur cycling community. (In Russian)
  7. CIAM. 16. 28. 319. – On approval of the Regulations of the Moscow cycling club. (In Russian)
  8. CIAM. 16. 134. 248. – On approval of the Regulations of the Moscow amateur lawn tennis association. (In Russian)
  9. CIAM. 64. 1. 206. – The case of registration of the Novogireevo sports community. (In Russian)
  10. CIAM. 64. 1. 239. – The case of registration of Regulations of a sports club at the Izmaylovo menagerie close to Moscow. (In Russian)
  11. CIAM. 64. 1. 242. – The case of registration of the Nemchinov sport circle of Moscow district. (In Russian)
  12. CIAM. 64. 1. 259. – The case of registration of the sport circle "Malakhovka". (In Russian)
  13. CIAM. 64. 1. 263. – The case of registration of the Chukhlinka-Sheremet'evo sport circle. (In Russian)
  14. CIAM. 64. 1. 274. – The case of registration of the “Sparta" sport circle in Mytishchi. (In Russian)
  15. CIAM. 64. 1. 433. – The case of registration of the Baulinsk sport circle at the Perovo station of the Мoscow-Kazan railway. (In Russian)