How has the sport developed over time?

History of Sports & School Sports

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The following lecture explains in abbreviated form the history of school sports in Germany. For a better understanding, I have also included the general sports story in my work. The history of general sport is also seen in connection with the current influence of sport on the social behavior of people, their health and their social position.

Author: Michael sacrifice, Nov. 2002

History of Sports and School Sports

The development of school sport and its influence on today's social behavior

General sports history

The following historical epochs show the social development and the emergence of sport derived from it.

The first evidence of sport in human history emerges in the Cretan Mycenaean era around 1600-1200 BC Chr. on. At that time the sport was still called Physical education. However, physical education is at these times reserved for the higher social classes. As part of events, such as weddings sporting competitions carried out. In connection with these competitions Olympia develops as a place of worship.

in the archaic age (800 - 500 BC) competition-oriented sport is given a high priority in society because in honor of the gods Competitions are contested. since 776 BC Chr. find therefore in honor of the god Zeus in one 4 year cycle sacred games take place.

in the Classical Age (500-300 BC) first systems for physical education emerge. The gymnastics become health functions assigned. Consequently will Educational institutions, how Palaestra and Gymnasion built.

In the Hellenistic era (336-30 BC) the doctrine arises from one healthy lifestyle (Dietetics). This gives the education system a great deal of importance. Physical education accordingly takes on an important role in the school system. The development of gymnastics tends to health-oriented physical educationwith which the agonal (competition-oriented) gymnastics is neglected. Agonal gymnastics therefore only affects you Professional athlete, whereby in this epoch the competitions in cultic games only as pure exhibition fights occur.

in the early Roman times (500-200 BC) However, the education is subjected to military service, whereby the physical training comes to the fore. The military teaches simply and purposefully Hardness, endurance, strength etc ... The forms of physical exercise include, among others Running, swimming and fencing. On the other hand, developed no competitive nature.

Due to historical developments there is a confrontation between the ancient Roman physical education and the Hellenistic sport, known as the Hellenistic-Roman era (200 BC - 500 AD). The health-oriented Hellenistic gymnastics becomes an important part of social life.

The Christianity becomes 380 AD to the state religion and soon one developed hostile attitude.

The early Middle Ages (500-1000) is a time of transition: physical activity evolves into a specific, medieval sport. In the so-called Hiking time (approx. 200 - 500) Sport becomes a means of aristocratic self-expression (e.g. in hunting and competition). Physical education in school cannot develop further during this period.

Through the emergence of the knighthood in High Middle Ages (1000-1300) it comes to a profound social change, as it happened in the early Romance was the case - the physical training plays an important role again, due to the military function of the knighthood. There are sporting highlights at the knightly tournaments, but health-oriented sport is still not preferred.

in the late Middle Ages, humanism and absolutism (1300-1800) the society changes, through the economic upswing: in the bourgeois society special forms of sport arise (also e.g. horse riding and dancing) and for some of them arise permanent structures, such as fencing houses. Sport is promoted as a leisure activity at high schools and universities. In addition, arise more and more frequently Sports associations. In a time of upheaval, the reorientation of sport during the humanism, is created again physical education at school (but still no uniform development, but limited to life outside of school -> private schools for special sports). At that time, knight academies were gaining importance in terms of sport history due to their training.

The ones in the Reconnaissance period (1600 - 1800) Fought intellectual and cultural reform movements of the rising middle class are gaining more influence on the people. The Philanthropist reform movements develop a quantitatively and qualitatively demanding system for physical education (gymnastics). The philanthropists thus direct the modern and first scheduled school-based Physical education a (Guth Muths).

In the period of idealism and the national movement (1780-1815) a new, idealistic image of man emerges and a new ideal of education develops. The sport, especially that gymnastics, plays an important role in the concepts of educational goals, for example by J. H. Pestalozzi. The French Revolution around 1789 and the foreign rule in Germany solve one Educational reform out. This includes, for example Jahn gymnastics (F. L. Jahn). Gymnastics is now seen as a form of national and popular physical education.

After the reorganization of the European world of states (1814/15) the gymnastics community gets involved in political conflicts. It comes to one Turn lock of 1820 to 1822. Nevertheless, gymnastics is gaining more and more importance in its essence (e.g. through gymnastics clubs). In addition, physical education for young people is integrated into school (early stage of School sports in today's sense - first appearance of a new form of physical exercise, "Sports" in England). Features of the sport are Competition, performance and record principle.

To the Turn of the 18th and 19th centuries begins the formation of a characteristic appearance of the sport in the form of Championships, Regulations, etc. The upswing in sport up to the middle of the 19th century is therefore also known as "sporting" or "sporting", which also made its breakthrough in Germany in the 1980s and 1990s. For the first time will also Women involved right from the start. Gymnasts, however, offer resistance.

The Turn from the 19th to the 20th century is characterized by the industrial revolution in all European countries. The changes in social life created a new understanding of the body. A youth movement emerges as well as one Reform pedagogy. The reorientation of physical culture is based on the modern Olympic thoughts (de Coubertin; Foundation of the IOC around 1894). Olympiads have been held every four years since 1896, starting with the first Olympics in Athens (Greece).

In Germany during the Weimar Republic (after 1915) the sport becomes Mass movement. The sport, especially the gymnastics clubs, have Part of politics. After Hitler came to power (1933) the sport is reorganized and directed in the direction of political interests (political physical education). The combat- and community-oriented sports are again strongly favored by militarization.

After the Second World War, Germany was divided into four zones of occupation. Arise in the area of ​​tension between the USA and the Soviet Union 1949 two independent German states - the FRG and the GDR. The organization of the sport is also shared and carried out independently. During the economic boom in the FRG, the performance-oriented (especially in the 50s) and competitive Sport the climb. By the "German Gymnastics and Sports Festival" sport becomes a mass movement. But a system of des is also emerging in the GDR modern high-performance sports. In addition, the sport is now called science accepted (DHfK).


Development of school sport in Germany

In ancient Greece, sport was generally practiced in the service of the defense of the fatherland, for religious and cultic purposes, but also in the sense of a holistic upbringing and education of the people. Further history also shows these different focuses in the various societies, but it was not until the schools in the late modern period that it was primarily about intellectual, philosophical, humanistic education, but military influences are still recognizable in various regions of the world to this day. In Germany won in the Mid 18th century the Physical exercise, as one better calls sport with its various forms in this context, is becoming more and more important for school education.

Johann Bernhard Basedow (1724-1790) opened 1774 the Philanthropium Dessau with the aim of an education based on reason and nature.

Basedows contemporary and philanthropist Johann Christian Friedrich Guts Muths (1759-1839), Pioneer and founder of modern school gymnastics lessons, supported him in this regard and also campaigned against "pampering". With his "Gymnastics for the Young" (1793) he wrote the first comprehensive pedagogical work on the function and content of physical education, which was supposed to fight against `` annoying pampering '' and "luxurious softness". In his considerations, however, girls and children from the rural population did not appear, since the latter would have received enough physical training through the hard work on the land.

From 1804 then, for the first time ever in Germany, the curriculum of the Bavarian elementary schools provided for "gymnastics" as a regular subject, which, however, was not entirely undisputed.

At the times of the Gymnastics father Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778-1852), still not a single person thought of having fun in sport - it was always about military training for the defense of the fatherland and about educating the people. Due to the military aspect, "gymnastics" (Jahn's word creation - see tournament), mainly triggered by the German hostile attitude towards France at the time, gained acceptance.

In the former Prussia 1842 the "Very Highest Cabinet Order" for a new reform. According to this reform, the Physical educationAs physical education was previously called, "in all public schools as a necessary and indispensable part of male education".

In Württemberg gymnastics became 1845 also part of the lessons in higher schools. School sport was still withheld from girls up to this point. Even then it was decided to include lessons "also for the winter in the school schedule of every scholarly and secondary school" and to teach it at least "twice a week, one hour each time".

Otto Heinrich Jaeger (1828-1912), so to speak, the gymnastics father Jahn for the Württemberger, developed a kind of tight military gymnastics whose exercises could hardly be distinguished from drill exercises. His gymnastics system was recognized by the Württemberg government as the "official gymnastics system in schools in the state". Like many of his predecessors, he had a military ulterior motive - in this case it was the thought of one National movement (Germany) against France.

For the first time around 1860 gymnastics in schools was made possible for women. But the "Father of girls' gymnastics", Moritz Kloss initially rejected leapfrog jumping, vaulting, as well as parallel bars and high bar exercises from "higher risk of injury" for girls' general school gymnastics.

The subjects swimming and gymnastics achieved their academic breakthrough, especially through the military training of male youth 1861. For high schools and 1868 also for elementary schools, these subjects finally became "regular" subjects.

One problem, of course, was that in many places there was a lack of suitable exercise facilities and trained gymnastics instructors for physical education.

Not until 1900 became the spectrum of the Girls gymnastics, after a long phase on the level of callistheny (doctrine of grace), adapted to that of boys' gymnastics in a restricted form.

In contrast to the disciplined "German gymnastics" stood the "English Sport". Derived from "to disport" - to have fun, it always contained entertaining elements.

Despite frequent opposition from the German gymnastics community, which called "Sport" "un-German", the "Sport" has become more and more widespread worldwide since the middle of the 19th century. The Soccer game is one of those entertaining games that enjoyed an unexpected boom in the first 35 years of the introduction of the soccer game (since the Weimar period also occasionally in schools).

The ideal of "strong woman" first shaped the National Socialists. But not out of the will to achieve equality with regard to women's sport, but again out of a thirst for power and expansion.

The guidelines 1937 provided for five hours of sports per week, the assessment of which was disproportionately important in the report through up to six different subjects (example of six sports subjects at a school: athletics, gymnastics, swimming, games, general physical fitness and boxing).

In the later GDR ideological and political goals were also pursued. In addition to pre-military training, sports lessons worked towards a conscious, healthy lifestyle under socialism and the development of a community spirit.

Today, after fundamental social change, it is mainly in community sports (school sports, clubs, etc.) about pedagogically based human upbringing and in the extracurricular area, for health reasons, also about the physical fitness of people.


Influencing society

Today sport is an integral part of society due to mass sport. His variety of sports is growing increasingly and is now hardly manageable. In addition, sport has now found such a place in areas of daily life that one cannot easily imagine a life without sport. Apart from people's everyday lives, sport is now one of the largest and most important branches of the economy. For example, television broadcasts of world championships in racing sports such as Formula 1 and, above all, mass sports such as soccer, are gigantic sources of income.

Apart from that, the sport also plays in areas of the politics a role (e.g. the sporting decisions at the "green table"). Of necessity, however, doctors also have to deal with newly created ones Sports injuries of patients "messing around".

Influence on the social position

The Sports is divided into four distinctive areas in technical terms:

  • the Popular sport / popular sport
  • the competitive sport
  • the School sports
  • and the Rehabilitation sports

At the Popular sport is primarily the search for Joy, conviviality, health and communication in the foreground, which I can largely confirm from my own and other experiences in my football club. Popular sport is generally looked after by clubs and is independent of gender and age. Apart from the increased quality of life, it primarily promotes communication, but also, within clubs and teams, solidarity and an understanding of democracy.

The competitive sport however, is to be viewed on a professional basis. The pursuit of excellence, records, as well as making money leads to recognition and fame. Too often, however, we experience that doping cases can be detected in this area of ​​sport on a daily basis, which means that the will to fame can quickly turn into the opposite. That being said, professional athletes live under constant pressure of the risk of injury that could stop a good career. In this case, rapidly advancing age requires maximum performance at a young age in order to have financially provided for the rest of life. In contrast to amateur athletes, competitive athletes live in constant competition with other competitive athletes. As a result, rivalries can spread across the country.

Influence on social behavior

The tasks of sport for social behavior should consist in developing, expanding and consolidating social or human behavior patterns.
For the most part, sport develops or produces positive behaviors. This includes, for example, camaraderie, team spirit, cooperation, a sense of community, consideration, tolerance, "fair play" (these characteristics are all close to one another and all promote "living together", e.g. at work or in everyday life).

Another task of sport for social behavior is negative behaviors like aggressions and Contempt for human beings to suppress, these dismantle and transform them into positive behaviors.

in the School sports has the Learning social behaviors particularly important because of sport. As an educator, students are taught to orient themselves towards norms through sporting achievements and to achieve or try to achieve corresponding educational goals in accordance with legal guidelines.

This includes, for example, due to the existence of different requirements (e.g. age, physical and mental health) in a group, the orientation towards sensitivity and cooperation.
As the first Teaching of social behavior, is school sport in its kind indispensable.

Let's take a few more examples. Learning to behave in accordance with the rules happens through simple "Reward", or. "Punishment", e.g. by giving grades or, in the negative case, by being excluded from physical education. In this way, the students learn certain values ​​or rules, mostly on the basis of practical exercises. In this way, children and young people can now get to know the meanings of norms and later "implement" them in their professional and everyday lives.

From purely arithmetical facts, not every athlete can achieve the desired success. So it is always the case that in the end some individuals have to win and others have to accept that they have failed or have lost. Here it is important to have one fair player and thus a good loser to be. Of course there are "eternal losers" who have to learn to live with this frustration. This disappointment situation can, however, have a positive effect, because it improves the ability to "suffer" defeats, which can occasionally be of importance in non-sporting life. (Incidentally, I recognized this from our parallel sports course with another sports teacher. Although I lost to three physically worse athletes (in terms of athletics), I have gained experience and have even been described as a "very good loser". This has brought me more than one or more victories in this case.)

A negative aspect of learning social behavior in sport, however, is the emergence of aggressiveness, although not the "fair" aggressiveness, e.g. is meant in football. In competitions, it is not too rare that decisions are made that are not always social towards everyone and even violate rules (as it also happens in everyday life and e.g. in politics). Then the reactions to it can sometimes be extremely aggressive, depending on how important the respective situation is assessed by viewers and active participants.

The task of sport here is to give inexperienced athletes, mainly children and young people, experience Coping with conflict situations to be transmitted in order to alleviate or exclude false aggression.




  • Bohus, J. "Sports history, society & sport from Mycenae to today" Munich, 1986
  • Heinemann, K. "Introduction to the Sociology of Sport" Schorndorf, 1998
  • Röthig, P.; Großering, S. "Kursbuch 4, Sport und Gesellschaft" Wiesbaden, 1995



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E-mail: netSCHOOL editorial team; 2003