Physical Fitness and Sport Policy in the Cold War

Introduction

The period of Cold War can be considered the time of depression or the time of dramatic progress and changes. As two superpowers competed in all possible domains, it was apparent that athletic fitness and physical training could become the same premises for a competition as the arms race or other areas where some rivalry between the United States of America and the Soviet Union occurred.

As such, Thomas M. Hunt analyzes the rise of competition in the field of physical training, especially in Olympic Games in the period of Cold War. The author claims that the time of Lyndon B. Johnson presidential administration shifted the priorities in the sports national policy and vision of sport rivalry in the United States.

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Analysis of the thesis

“Addressing the subject in terms of federal initiatives during the 1960s, this article will argue that the years of the Lyndon B. Johnson presidential administration served as an important transition period between competing visions of American sport policy” (Hunt 274).

Though Hunt suggests that vision of the rivalry in sport shifted in the years of Johnson administration, this change had efficient premises and was a matter of time. I believe that the thesis is rather strong though it makes the readers think about other factors that could have contributed to reorganization of the sport policy in the United States.

However, the thesis in this article is well-though and formulated on the basis of an introductory part where the author explains his point of view. For instance, Hunt discussed rivalry between two superpowers in the period of Cold War and inferred from it that sport policy is another area for competition and that the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson contributed greatly to shifts made in physical training policy and vision of the conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Evidence to support the thesis

Hunt uses reports and facts to support the thesis why I believe that the entire discussion of the topic lacks analysis of other perspectives that could be interesting in this issue. First, the author mentions Kennedy’s attempts to propagate physical fitness as a way to make the mute conflict even more tensed as well as Eisenhower’s vision of the level of physical fitness in the national framework.

As such, Kennedy claimed that “Communist system possesses the vigor and determination necessary to satisfy awakening aspirations for progress” (Hunt 275) which can be treated as a way to make people more ideologically concerned with their physical fitness in order to be ready to reflect the enemy’s ‘aggression’. On the other hand, this fact supports the ideas introduced in the thesis: Cold War period shifted priorities and the nation became more concerned with the rivalry in the domain of sport policy and Olympic Games.

The rivalry in physical fitness could also reflect the desires of the nation and its administration to attain superiority and show that the American people can succeed in other areas than technological development and arms race.

Hunt did not discuss broadly rivalry in other domains in terms of failures and victories of each side while other factors could be essential for Johnson administration to bring the concept of physical fitness into a brand-new level. The war in Vietnam was not as effective as the Americans thought it to be and thousands of people were not satisfied with the policies of the President administration to get involved into other military conflicts.

As such, the only way to distract the population from the administration was to give people another enemy to fight against. Consequently, physical fitness concept and sport policies as well as competitions in the international athletic arena became the primary goal of all people whereas this strategy was not more than a mere propaganda.

Two superpowers in the period of Cold War were in the condition of permanent stress and every event was treated as a chance to demonstrate superiority over the rival. The arms race is the most essential domain in which no winner could be while physical fitness and sport competitions became a matter of efforts, propaganda, sacrifice, and many other issues that became important for people who thought about the conflict and believed it necessary to do everything to support their compatriots.

Hunt analyzes the emergence of physical fitness concept and its increasing importance in the period of Cold War which is the strength of the author’s argument while every domain was the ‘field of battle’ and people specializing in different domains were encouraged to perform a labor feat as a means to demonstrate patriotism and loyalty to the country.

In this respect the weakness of the argument is that it could have focused on physical fitness and sport policy as one of numerous displays of the Cold War but not emphasize that the President Johnson and his administration catalyzed desire of the American people to win all the competitions in sport by means of telling them that it is great to develop physical fitness.

Conclusion

The tension apparent for the period of Cold War can be evaluated with regard to achievements in different domains though Hunt attempts to prove that sport policies are the result of shifts in the consciousness of the president administration in the years of Johnson when the matter of physical fitness and victories at the Olympics were considered a feat in the name of the country.

The evidence is rather convincing while many other ideas emerge while reading the article. The author focuses on the sport policies and tries to identify who began the shift in the domain whereas there are other important factors that could have been evaluated in terms of contribution to the development of sport propaganda.

Work Cited

Hunt, Thomas M. “American sport policy and the cultural Cold War: The Lyndon B. Johnson presidential years.” Journal of Sport History, 33.3: 273-297. Print.

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