2007 Research Fair - History Abstracts
Playing for the State
The Olympic Games offered a global stage to showcase Soviet physical strength and peacefully battle the Cold War with the West. With all facets of culture closed during an arms race, athletics became another competition and measurement. Prior to 1952 the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics protested the games as bourgeois and anti-worker. After realizing the prestige of international success, the USSR sent a delegation to the Helsinki Summer Olympic Games. As early as 1931, Stalin had condemned leveling social policies and claimed the very idea of equality was a ‘petty-bourgeois’ distortion.” Corruption and exploitation would plague the sports system as it later would the communist bureaucracy. Sports mirrored Soviet society of cadre elites and special privileges. While asking for world supremacy, mass participation, and political dedication, the reality of Soviet sports violated all of its own set goals and forecasted its eventual downfall. By manipulating sports, the USSR used sports to portray a success in the Cold War.