S.A. Pronin, Ph.D.
St. Petersburg National State University of Physical Education, Sports and Health named after P. F. Lesgaft, St. Petersburg
Keywords: journal "Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury", XVIII Olympic Winter Games.
In the early 1960s, due to the instability of the political course pursued by Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Union faced serious problems both in domestic and foreign policy, which was seen in a series of personnel changes. In 1962, the new governing body of the Union of Sport Associations and Organizations of the USSR was appointed, resulting, in its turn, in the new editorial board of the journal "Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury". In July 1962, Evgeniy Sizyi was appointed editor-in-chief.
Being a party functionary, E. Sizyi began to earnestly implement the new program of the Communist Party adopted in 1961. At the same time, the share of articles in the above sections together with socially-oriented papers in the total bulk of publications was steadily growing. Consequently, the journal information image was getting lost. The subscribers' interest in the journal started to wane dramatically. Its circulation had dropped to 9 000 copies (Fig. 1).
In previous years, it was unlikely to become the matter of organizational transformations, but in 1964 there came the first wake-up call — the USSR Olympic team came second after the Americans in the gold medals count at the XVIII Olympic Games in Tokyo. The new government (in October 1964, Leonid Brezhnev became the General Secretary of the CPSU) drew a clear parallel between the number of the Olympic gold medals and the number of intercontinental missiles as a generalized indicator of the state's power. Despite this, initially this issue was taken quite likely and no serious measures were initiated.
When considering the causes of the USSR team's defeat, the discourse of a sure victory was replaced by the investigation of objective factors leading to this defeat. Gradually, the leaders of physical culture and sport in the country became aware of the fact that it was the teamwork of professionals (coaches, scientists, doctors etc.) and not the crucial role of the Communist Party which contributed to the Olympic success. Moreover, this teamwork activity had to be conducted "on the basis of thorough scientific analysis rather than superficial unrealistic views ..." (p. 5, The results …, 1964).
In autumn 1965, the Central Council of the Union of Sport Associations and Organizations of the USSR adopted a resolution on the journal "Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury". It was noted that "the main shortcoming of the journal is its versatile character, the abundance of topics and the absence of a clear profile; another flaw was that it was not aimed at a certain circle of sports professionals and specialists" (p. 70, Resolution …, 1965). The multitude of tasks set in the above resolution for the new members of the editorial board and editorial staff could be reduced to a single goal — the journal was to become a kind of "compass" determining the vector of development of physical culture and sport in the country rather than just be a record of scientific results in the area.
In 1966, Arkadiy Sedov (1928—1987) was appointed to supervise the process of achieving this complex goal. Being the editor-in-chief of the journal "Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury" became his lifework. His used to work in a physical culture and sport edition, starting from 1952, where he got promoted from a technical staff member to the head of the applied sports department. A. Sedov was both an expert in the publishing sphere and an active researcher.
The new editor-in-chief of the journal TPFK had introduced fundamental changes into the edition: firstly, the subtitle of Scientific and Theoretical Journal was given to the edition (so the share of research papers was to reach as much as 70%); secondly, the approach to thematic sections was revised in its core (the number of sections remained the same but now they dealt with the main research objects rather than aspects of physical culture and sports activities); thirdly, the journal was redesigned (each issue being customized).
The journal began to regain its former popularity. In 1967—1968 its circulation nearly doubled and reached 13 500 copies (Fig. 1). Naturally, this was facilitated by the qualitative improvement of the methodological framework of the articles, largely due to more selective procedures and higher requirements for the materials published in the journal.
The obvious improvement of the research papers' quality was brought forth by a large number of theses written. In the 1960s, the annual number of defended theses related to physical culture and sport increased fivefold, reaching approximately 200 works (S.A. Pronin, 2007). In its turn, this was the result of a payrise by 250-350% to the teaching staff and researchers holding PhD degrees. This payrise was established in 1946. However, the research activity promotion process had been hampered due to redtape for many years.
Nevertheless, the research in the field of physical culture and sport was activated not only due to organizational factors. Mexico City (Mexico) location at the altitude of 2000 meters above the sea level proved to be the scientific challenge determining major research objectives of those years since this city was selected the venue for the XIX Olympic Games in 1968.
Since athletes face the greatest difficulties in long-distance events when competing at middle altitudes, the research was focused on the problems related to endurance. Unfortunately, since the construction of the Olympic training center in Tsakhkadzor (Armenia) did not meet the deadlines (its location was in full compliance with the conditions of the upcoming Olympic competitions), the recommended practices based on the studies performed were not fully implemented into the training scheme of the USSR picked teams prior to the Olympics.
The runner-up place in the team ranking at the Winter Olympic Games in 1968 in Grenoble was the second wake-up call, followed by the dismissal of all top sports officials. Nevertheless, a terrible defeat at the XIX Olympic Games in Mexico City inflicted by the US team (it won half as much gold medals as the Soviet athletes), showed that sports officials did not present the major problem. The fact was that the whole system of physical culture and sports organization in the USSR was in need of a complete transformation.
- Volkov, N.I. Biokhimicheskie osnovy vynoslivosti sportsmena (Biochemical basics of athlete's endurance) // Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kul'tury. – 1967. – № 4. – P. 19–26.
- Itogi XVIII Olimpiyskikh igr (Results of the XVIII Olympic Games) // Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kul'tury. – 1964. – № 12. – P. 1–5.
- Korobkov, A.V. Vynoslivost' i ee fiziologicheskie osnovy / A.V. Korobkov (Endurance and its physiological bases) // Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kul'tury. – 1968. – № 8. – P. 55—59.
- Mikhaylov, V.V. Nekotorye problemy vynoslivosti sportsmenov v tsiklicheskoy rabote (Some endurance related problems among athletes during cyclic activities) / V.V. Mikhaylov // Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kul'tury. – 1968. – № 1. – P. 55–62.
- O merakh po dal'neyshemu razvitiyu fizicheskoy kul'tury i sporta (On measures for further development of physical culture and sport) // Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kul'tury. – 1966. – № 9. – P. 2–4.
- Platonov, V.N. Sport vysshikh dostizheniy i podgotovka natsional'nykh komand k Olimpiyskim igram: Otechestvenny i zarubezhny opyt. Istoriya i sovremennost': monografiya (Elite sport and training of national teams for the Olympic Games: Domestic and foreign experience. History and Modernity: Monograph) / V.N. Platonov. – Moscow: Sovetsky sport, 2010. — 310 P.
- Postanovlenie byuro TsS soyuza sportivnykh obshchestv i organizatsiy SSSR o zhurnale «Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kul'tury» (Resolution of the Bureau of the CC of the Union of sports associations and organizations of the USSR about the journal "Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kul'tury") // Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kul'tury. – 1965. – № 12. –P. 70.
- Pronin, S.A. Analiz dokumental'nogo potoka dissertatsiy po problemam fizicheskoy kul'tury i sporta (Analysis of documentary flow of theses on the issues of physical culture and sport) / S.A. Pronin // Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kul'tury. – 2007. – № 6. – P. 60–62.
- Sedov, A.V. Analiz i sovershenstvovanie tekhniki pedalirovaniya velosipedistov-shosseynikov: avtoref. dis. … kand. ped. nauk (Analysis and improvement of pedaling technique of road cyclists: abstract of Ph.D. thesis) / A.V. Sedov. – Moscow, 1967. – 15 P.
- Sedov, A.V. Massovaya kommunikatsiya v sovetskoy fizicheskoy kul'ture: dis. … dokt. ped. nauk v forme nauch. dokl. (Mass communication in Soviet physical culture: abstract of doctoral thesis (Hab.) / A.V. Sedov. – Moscow, 1985. – 31 P.