Athletes start the century as normal, healthy citizens, and end up as potentially unhealthy physiological 'freaks', while the general public are increasingly urged to do more exercise and play more sports. This book offers a comprehensive study, and social history, of the development of sports medicine in Britain, as practiced by British doctors and on British athletes in national and international settings. It describes how and why, in Britain, medicine applied to sport became first an area of expertise known as sports medicine, and then a formal medical specialty: Sport and Exercise Medicine. In the late nineteenth century, vigorous exercise was an acceptable, probably necessary, part of the moderate healthy lifestyle for the normal, healthy man. Consequently sports medicine was part and parcel of normal medical treatment, distinguishable only through its location or through its patient history. There was no wide-spread de facto scepticism about the value of vigorous exercise among physicians and scientists. The normality of the young male athlete is reconsidered between 1928 and 1952. At the end of the period, the athlete becomes an abnormal or supernormal human being who demands specialist medical interventions. The formation and work of British Association of Sport and (Exercise) Medicine, the Institute of Sports Medicine, the Sports Council, and the British Olympic Association's Medical Committee is discussed. The book finally discusses fitness. Normal life, war, elite competition gives us an insight into how athletic bodies are conceptualised, and how sports medicine has formed and reformed over a century.
6 Tending the communist body:
the quest for physicalfitness
Springiness, elasticity, always implies strength, and is much more preferable to
sheer bulging over-muscledness.1
The body would function as an important site of British Communist Party
(CPGB) efforts to implant the communist spirit and way of life in its members.
During the interwar years the CPGB was keen to ensure the physical well-being
and fitness of its activists. For the Party, healthy bodies enabled members to
withstand better the attacks of rapacious
the work of the Fatigue Laboratory and similar institutions, sports medicine in the USA could still be considered an ‘undignified’ activity even into the 1950s; much of the pressure to medicalise sport, or make it ‘scientific’, seemed to be coming from physical educators rather than doctors or physiologists. 13 Just like Britain, the USA did not get a formal organisation specifically for sports medicine (as opposed to physicalfitness or physical education) until the 1950s. 14 The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) was founded in 1954, two years after BAS
both radical and mainstream health movements. Regimen was integral
to the agenda of various health and social reform groups including those
interested in temperance. While some of these ideas were associated
with radical agendas including anti-vaccination, others were integrated
with more broadly based movements such as physicalfitness. The
twentieth century brought renewed interest in regimen from both
orthodox and unorthodox practitioners, reflected in increased emphasis
given to health promotion by public health professionals and the rise
competitive trappings, seemed
to necessitate something different: official national involvement in promoting spectator sport. This was particularly evident in the contentious
discussions about the planned 100,000-
Olympic stadium, which proved divisive from the start. The stadium’s
advocates argued that its construction would somehow spark a nationwide revival of French physicalfitness, deemed critical in the wake of
the First World War, while its detractors saw the Stade Olympique as an
expensive space for parasitic mass spectatorship. Yet
surnames, military ranks were adopted, uniform was worn. They had to commit for the minimum of a year’s service, were expected to turn out for duty within twenty four hours, had to disclose their membership of other organisations and had to possess a doctor’s certificate attesting to good physicalfitness. There were height and age restrictions; they ‘trained on strictly military lines’, saluted and practised marching in formation, and undertook open-air field displays. From summer 1909 they attended weekend and summer camps ‘run on military lines as far as possible
This book is a study of the communist life and the communist experience of membership. The study places itself on the interface between the membership and the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) by considering the efforts of the latter to give shape to that experience. For those who opted to commit fully to the communist way of life it would offer a complete identity and reach into virtually all aspects of life and personal development. In regard to the latter, through participation in the communist life 'joiners' gained a positive role in life, self-esteem, intellectual development, skills in self-expression, and opportunities to acquire status and empowerment through activities like office-holding or public speaking. The British Communist Party had a strong and quite marked generational focus, in that it sought to address the experience of Party life and membership at the principal phases of the life cycle. The Party developed rites of passage to guide its 'charges' through the different stages of the life cycle. Thus its reach extended to take in children, youth, and the adult experience, including marriage and aspects of the marital and family relationship. The Party did not disengage even at the beginning and termination of the life cycle. Its spokespersons advised communist mothers on birth and mothercraft, 'red' parents on childrearing, and addressed the experience of death and mourning within the communist domain.
the centre of the field, while the grandstands were festooned with red
banners and the tricoloured French flag.3 The demonstration itself was a
visually impressive affair, featuring parades of communist politicians, veterans and youth groups, demonstrations of sports, gymnastics and physicalfitness, and numerous speeches pledging fidelity to the newly elected
anti-fascist Popular Front coalition of Socialists, Radical Socialists and
Communists. At the culmination of the rally, the PCF general secretary,
Maurice Thorez, arrived directly from Lille and delivered
drive to categorise the social groups that should represent the standard of normal breathing for that particular group.
Hutchinson’s ideal vital capacity tables represented the standard data sets for assessing normal lung function until after the First World War, when Georges Dreyer (1873–1934) asserted in 1919 that lung capacity standards for pilots needed to be more strictly measured. 24 Vital capacity offered a quick and easy way to assess physicalfitness and so was used as a routine test in the examination of candidates for the Royal Flying Corps, with the
, fit men. In peacetime it is practically only sport that provides a similar demographic group.
The second influence driving the formation of specialist groups was the pressure of conflict and inter-war depression, which created new concerns about the health of the nation. Rationing, the need for a substantial population of army-ready men, and the discussion and debate that prefigured the NHS, all led to an increasing interest in physicalfitness. This is evidenced by the formation of organisations such as the Central Council of Physical Recreation (CCPR: see Box