What happens when a culture honors sports more than the historical lessons of “building better citizens” through physical education as opposed to building more awards through a single sport? Enter the latest sports scandal with American swimmers at the Rio Olympic Games where their dishonorable behaviors have become an justifiable embarrassment to their whole country.
When you put sports first–this is where it leads. The sport competition loses its deeper purpose. Minus any military purpose, what is the deeper purpose of being physically fit according to history? Was it an Olympic Gold? NO. Was it a million dollar endorsement? NO. Was it fame? NO.
The best example the last 100 years of sound mind-sound body balance in America would be the Czech Sokols who brought an an amazing system of mental, physical, and spiritual development from their homeland when they emigrated into the United States. The Sokol system was a “cradle to grave” physical culture that valued the balance of mind, body, spirit along with education in the arts, music, literature, and it was all donation based for non-profit. Everyone volunteered to build better citizens “through” movement in the spirit of Ancient Greece. As late as 1965, the Sokols and their philosophy of quality living “through” physical education was still strong. Let’s take a look back at history so we can learn–and hopefully move forward without any more American Olympians vandalizing public property and lying to get out of their actions.
America does not need any more “Elite” athletes who are functionally illiterate outside of their single sport. We need “good citizens” balanced in mind, body, and spirit who value the physical as a way to be a better person whether an Olympic athlete or everyday community member raising a family.
Quotations and referenced photos from the American Sokol Organization in 1965.
“Every week, in every Sokol gymnasium, boys and girls, men and women, are partaking of work having for its purpose physical, mental, and moral development. A person ‘strong’ in these three ways had disgust for the lying, the deceitful in life.”
“The Sokol Creed” 1865-1965″
by Edwin J. Halik, National Physical Director, American Sokol Organization
The Sokol movement stems from the belief in the sanctity of the individual, that all men are equals, that man should have the right to live, to work, and to worship in a manner of his own choosing, that man’s purpose on this earth is to serve his fellows and that his worth be judged by is service and his contribution to the general welfare.
The Sokol, knowing that on one can contribute more than his own physical and mental capacities are capable of performing, has set for itself the following tasks:
- To teach physical training classes with exercise planned, prepared and conducted for boys and girls, for men and women of all ages. Sokol expects its members to attend these classes regularly and to participate, each to his or her own capacity, so as to increase physical fitness, to imp;rove health, to develop strength, skills, endurance–good work habits, orderliness, self-control, strength of will and strength of purpose.
- Sokol encourages the readying of good books, or periodicals. It prepares lectures, organizes discussion, groups, provides theatrical, musical, and gymnastic performances to broaden the educational and culture experiences of its members. An informed people serve themselves and their fellows to greater advantage.
- To improve the moral fibre of its members, Sokol expects it members to conduct themselves in an orderly and respectable manner wherever they may be–to be respectful of their elected or assigned leaders, to carry out their duties and responsibilities with honor.
- To propagate the fraternal spirit–the brotherhood of man–to teach mutual respect, kindliness, charity toward, and an understanding of our fellows, giving cooperation and counsel as good brothers and sisters.
- To teach democracy–the belief in the equality of our fellows. To see others as equals and not to discriminate because of caste or class, circumstance, condition or fortune. That as sons and daughters of one nation, we are all equal.
- To teach love of country, patriotism. Our entire program is geared toward the individual , to development of improvement of his entire self, to his service to his Sokol, to his fellows, to his community and to his country.
These are the doctrines by which Sokols are expected to live.
Sokol gymnasiums therefore are effective schools for developing all the moral, physical and mental virtues of manhood, of civic duty, of civic pride.
The Sokol gymnastic program is a sure, sound means for improving the health, the strength, the endurance, the efficiency and the general morale of the people.
From this program, with its noble qualities and character, springs the well discipled organizational strength, the will and ability to continue–to endure! *Nazdar!
-Edwin J. Halik, National Physical Director, American Sokol Organization (1965)
THIS is what classical physical education taught through the generations and what we are missing today in American culture.
“Physical perfection should go hand in hand with a noble mind.” -Dr. Miroslav Tyrs, Founder of Sokols
History speaks. Who’s listening? How about you Mr. Lochte?
In Noble Purpose,
Ron Jones, MS
*Nazdar! is a Sokol greeting that translates “on to success!”